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Posted on April 7th, 2012, by

Students are perhaps the most rapidly developing and communicating part of the population: they need to communicate with their friends, groupmates, potential employers, teachers and many other people they meet during their educational period. Most students need to communicate with parents, either within theUKor internationally.

Students’ communication needs are quite varied and it is most likely that students will use various means of communication. Two main factors influencing the choice of communication means for students are cost and coverage.

Most likely, for long-term calls and for international communications students will use internet facilities such as Skype and Sipnet, which allow to make calls at very low prices in any time of the day. Skype provides video connection, which might be close to real-time conversations, and the students would most probably prefer internet-based facilities in the off-peak time. However, to stay available during the peak time, students might also choose mobile communication, since it is flexible, allows to stay in touch most of the time, and mobile phones are less demanding and work for longer time without recharging than laptops, smartphones and other devices supporting calls through Internet. The students, due to flexibility of their life and limited cost, choose pay-as-you-go system rather than contract payments. The purpose of this analysis is to consider four mobile providers (Vodafone,Orange, T-Mobile, Virgin Mobile) and to determine which of them is optimal for students.

First of all, it should be noted that the coverage of these providers is not listed in the tariffs, and it is difficult to compare it; thus, in this analysis it will be supposed that all four providers have good coverage throughoutUK. The comparison will be mostly cost-based. Also, it is likely that the students will mostly use their mobiles for communication in the peak time, sometimes in the evening, and maybe sometime in the weekend. The main communication load will still be on the peak time. Vodafone has the highest peak call cost, the lowest peak call cost is offered by Virgin (15p) and the second one isOrange, with 25p per minute in peak time. Vodafone offers the lowest cost for off peak calls, but as it was determined before, this would not benefit students much since they might use Internet for communication needs in off peak time.Orange, T-Mobile and Virgin do not make a difference between off peak and peak calls, which makes all these providers more suitable for student needs, than Vodafone.

The variability of providers is also important for students: calls to same network are the cheapest at Virgin Mobile; Vodafone offers 5p per minute during off peak time, but this is not a preferred student option.Orangealso offers comparatively low cost of 25p per minute within the same network. T-Mobile does not make a distinction between own network and other networks, charging 30p per minute for both. Thus, the choice of the students will depend on the domination of a certain provider; for example, if the majority of people haveOrange, then it would be optimal for a student to haveOrange, too. If the providers are quite varied, it is better to choose T-Mobile. Finally, if all the students could focus on one provider, it should be Virgin Mobile, because it offers the best conditions for calling within the same network, and does not make a difference between peak and off peak calls.

With regard to voicemail costs, T-Mobile and Virgin are the most preferable for students, since they provide voicemail for free. All providers allow international calls (which the students won’t probably use). The cost of international calls is not listed in the tariff table; however, this cost will not be the primary source for choosing a mobile provider for students. Directory enquiries are the most expensive atOrangeand T-Mobile, and the cheapest cost of directory enquiry is at Virgin. Text messages are more expensive at Vodafone (12p), and other providers offer similar prices for SMS messaging ”“ 10p. All providers do not have a daily charge, which is reasonable for pay-as-you-go payment basis.

In general, the most expensive mobile provider is Vodafone, and the most economical is Virgin Mobile. However, there is a number of factors influencing the decision for the choice of the operator which are unknown, e.g. coverage and variability of providers (or domination of a certain provider). Suggesting that the chosen provider will dominate the student market, Virgin Mobile should be recommended forUKstudents, since it is the most economical.

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