Exclusive Report: Out with the old, in with the new mobile data plans
Connected Business Research, the new research arm of Connected Planet, has released the results of an exclusive survey exploring mobile operator plans to move beyond unlimited data plan pricing.
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· Factors such as network technology or spectrum do not have much impact on operators' desire to change billing plans
· Smaller operators don't lag too far behind big operators in offering multi-device data plans for individuals or families
· When it comes to changing billing plans, technology readiness/cost and regulatory considerations are much less important than market perception and competitive considerations
The last point is particularly important. Few things affect customers more than being told they'll either have to pay more or cut back on usage. That means that operators that want to change their billing plans have their work cut out for them. And that, in my view, will be a particularly tricky task.
Here's why. First, user demographics are changing. Right now, according to Cisco, the top one percent of mobile data subscribers generate more than 20% of mobile traffic, down a whopping ten percentage points from a year ago. Usage is likely to become even democratized in the years ahead, and so will access to smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. Also, connected tablet traffic will grow. Then there is the ubiquitous laptop--Cisco estimates laptops generate 22 times more traffic than the typical smartphone.
Operators considering change of billing plans will have to keep in mind that an increasing numbers of users will become bandwidth hogs even as an increasing number of users have multiple devices that can connect to the network. Tailoring data usage plans without making them overly complicated is the challenge operators face in the fast-shifting mobile environment. The battle for data subscribers is only now starting to get into high gear and, as they say, we ain't seen nothing yet. Badly tailored data plans could very well snip an operator's revenues and profit and boost a competitor's market share.
For those interested, there is much more detail — including an executive summary and the full table of contents – in the Connected Business Research report on "Mobile Data Usage Billing Trends.”