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Mobile broadband providers risk losing revenue by failing to make their data charges clear, it has been claimed.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), alternatives such as wireless broadband - which are sometimes available free of charge - are becoming available to consumers.

And as such, mobile broadband has stronger competition among end-users seeking access to the internet on the move.

PwC warned that a lack of clarity over charges may be damaging vendors - almost half of those surveyed said they thought costs were unclear.

Just 16 per cent said they were aware of the cost of exceeding their monthly usage allowance.

Consumers also believe Wi-Fi is easier to access on mobile devices such as laptops and tablets - which means mobile broadband vendors may need to fight for custom.

Some 94 per cent of respondents said private Wi-Fi either meets or exceeds their expectations, compared to only 83 per cent for mobile broadband.

David Russell, Telecoms Partner at PwC, said that with the growing availability and usage of Wi-Fi in homes, workplaces and public spaces, the challenges for mobile broadband networks have extended beyond the 'data deluge' triggered by exploding take-up of mobile devices".

"Where mobile operators can control this shift, they can manage network demand and optimise network investments," he stated.

"But they must avoid consumers migrating valuable usage onto Wi-Fi services provided by fixed-line and other specialist players."

Mr Russell claimed those operators that can understand and anticipate how consumers will respond to new connectivity, data access and charging models "stand to gain a clear competitive edge".

"On the threshold of 4G, the world of consumer wireless broadband is changing fast," he stated.

"The question is - will operators be able to change quickly enough to keep up with and keep hold of their customers?"

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