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Lagging behind or executing a shrewd business strategy?
Vodafone and EE launch first and have to deal with the teething problems of new equipment (hardware and software), new Operational Support Systems (network deployment and management software) as well as analysis of changes in traffic patterns (is more being used? are there spikes at certain times of day? How well is the infrastructure handling these? Do we need to increase backhaul capacity?) and of course are we charging enough to cover the costs and make a decent margin?
Think O2 is doing what it has done before and is letting the first movers discover the pitfalls while it studies churn figures, customer satisfaction figures and other market data so when it launches the bugs in the hardware and firmware have largely been squashed and it knows it can come in with pricing the market will stand while making a decent margin.
As for Three it's probably even more cautious as it took 7 years to make a profit on 3G and video calling (which only used 64k anyway) wasn't the 'killer app' it's marketing portrayed it to be and people didn't want to pay 50p per MB of data.
The lower priced ones are capped to reduce the volume of data by influencing user behaviour.
Most video and audio apps in a default configuration are adaptive so will drop the bit rate accordingly so you might want to watch a film in HD but if the app and the management plane at the provider determine the speed of the connection is a max of 2 Mbps it'll drop the definition to standard, they aren't capping your use, they are just capping the transfer speed to allow careful control of the network load.
I think there'll be a number of changes to the plans over the next 12 months as new competition arrives and the networks carefully analyse the traffic patterns of those moving onto the service so they can see if upgrades to backhaul are required (from the base stations to the core and from the core to the 'net).
Prices will drop over time but they'll be pricing in the above and taking advantage of the early adopters.
IP networks are more efficient than the old circuit switched but the constant increase in volume across fixed and mobile data networks is pushing up the costs to run them.
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