Running the world’s first commercial 4G mobile network has given TeliaSonera a head start and a few head-aches as well. 4G users have changed their mobile surfing habits simply as a result of gaining access to quicker mobile broadband, 10 times quicker to be exact.

As might be expected, the people who jumped on the 4G bandwagon first were those already interested in technology. According to a survey conducted by the operator 100 days into its LTE experience, over 90 percent of users had upgraded from an already existing 3G subscription and 43 percent had an iPhone. The majority of the people in the survey, 65 percent, acquired 4G to complement their fixed broadband, and 54 percent would not consider returning to 3G at present. Needless to say, their increased appetite for speed has led to an increased take-up of bandwidth.

Just as operators worldwide are changing their mobile data pricing strategies from ‘all-you-can-eat’ to ‘pay-for-what-you-use’, TeliaSonera is looking for another, more advanced way to charge for mobile data.

Light Reading reports that the operator is considering a ‘new’ mobile data pricing model that would bundle the network usage charges with the cost of the mobile content consumed into a single tariff. So, rather than paying for a certain volume of data, users would pay for the content (video clip or streaming music) and network resources they consume. For example, if you buy a movie, you would have the price of the traffic for that movie included in the price of the movie. Similarly, if a user is listening to online, streamed music content, the price paid would include the cost of using the network as well as the actual content.

TeliaSonera calls this model ‘value-based’ pricing, but it’s hardly a new concept and is often termed as ‘blended’ pricing. It did not specify when it might implement such a pricing model for mobile data, although it was indicated that this is the next step for the operator. It’s not entirely clear, however, how the model would be implemented and whether it would replace users’ monthly contracts.

Getting the mobile data price model right is critical for operators because it can help to manage network usage and control the cost of network capacity upgrades. TeliaSonera management have identified pricing as the key ‘tool’ that enables operators to control traffic volumes, but whether customers agree may be a different story.