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4G Tablets: A Balancing Act

Dan Jones

One interesting thing that emerged from chatting to Cisco Systems Inc. about its latest Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast recently is that the vendor is very interested in how shared data plans will affect 4G tablet take-up among consumers. Cisco says that in 2012, the number of mobile-connected tablets increased 2.5-fold to 36 million, and each tablet generated 2.4 times more traffic than the average smartphone. Furthermore, Cisco expects that mobile-connected tablets will generate more traffic in 2017 than the entire global mobile network in 2012. Thomas Barnett, senior manager of product & solutions marketing for Cisco, said that the vendor is watching with interest the growth of tablets on shared mobile data. He says if it proves to be a popular way for consumers to add tablets to their data plan it could alter the VNI predictions for tablets in the coming years. AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless are both offering data plans where consumers can add a tablet to a shared monthly data bucket for $10. The hope is, of course, that the tablet adds to their monthly data usage and they decide to get a bigger bucket. Sprint Nextel Inc. CEO Dan Hesse also talked up tablets on his latest earnings call, but said that he didn't want to introduce a shared plan for these devices. This is no surprise; Sprint currently offers unlimited data for smartphones but caps data for tablets. It would add complexity to introduce a shared plan for both, particularly as Sprint wants to keep unlimited data for 4G phones as a selling point. What could Sprint do? Perhaps a $20 tariff for tablets on the unlimited plan would work for now? Sprint customers are already used to paying a $10 tariff for smartphones. I'm not entirely sure how they might handle it yet, but I do know that Sprint should figure out a way to compete with tablet usage on the Big Two's shared plans. As we've seen, these devices will be a bigger part of the picture in years to come. At the very least, I suspect this won't be the last time we see carriers mulling how to sell tablets to drive data ARPUs while balancing the amount of data they actually consume. — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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User Rank: Light Sabre
2/14/2013 | 2:51:44 PM
re: 4G Tablets: A Balancing Act

User Rank: Light Beer
2/13/2013 | 11:12:10 PM
re: 4G Tablets: A Balancing Act
-áTrue enough, for real horsepower the RAN network will still need fiber backhaul too, which shuts out parts of the rural US and good chunks of the rest of the world.
User Rank: Light Beer
2/13/2013 | 11:01:10 PM
re: 4G Tablets: A Balancing Act
RE: "Cisco says that in 2012, the number of
mobile-connected tablets increased 2.5-fold to 36 million, and each
tablet generated 2.4 times more traffic than the average smartphone.
Furthermore, Cisco expects that mobile-connected tablets will generate
more traffic in 2017 than the entire global mobile network in 2012."

The answer lies in how much are they willing to spend to expand their network to support the additional traffic. (More BW and Cisco)
With the carriers trying to cap the traffic so they don't have to expand their network with additional capital, a conundrum is in the near future. But "it takes money to make money", something carriers don't always acknowledge.

PS I live in a neighborhood where most people that installed FIOS internet have switched back to TWC because of VZ DPI policies restricting utilization.
User Rank: Light Beer
2/13/2013 | 8:03:54 PM
re: 4G Tablets: A Balancing Act
What would you pay to add a tablet to your Sprint plan. $10? $20? $30?

Consider that they probably don't want it on the unlimited plan because tablets scraff down-á data like no tomorrow.
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