Light Reading

Mobile Data: If the Cap Fits

Dan Jones
1/29/2013
50%
50%
Repost This

How users use and pay for data on their mobile devices remains one of the most contentious issues on the U.S. wireless scene in 2013. The big four carriers in the U.S. are neatly split between promoting capped shared data plans as the way of the future and preaching unlimited data as the right direction for smartphone users. The two biggest operators -- AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless -- introduced shared data plans in 2012 and are busy promoting them as the way ahead. These plans allow users or families to share a monthly bucket of data between phones and add other devices – like tablets -- for a nominal fee. Both AT&T and Verizon executives declare themselves happy with how this new idea has been adopted by the American mobile consumer. Verizon revealed earlier this January that 23 percent of its monthly subscriber base is now on its "Share Everything" plan. "By the end of the fourth quarter, more than 6.6 million of our subscribers were on Mobile Share," said AT&T CFO John Stephens on the operator's earnings call on Jan. 24. More than a quarter of AT&T's Mobile Share subscribers have more than 10GB in their shared buckets. Sprint Nextel Inc., meanwhile, has long been the poster child for unlimited data plans for smartphones, even featuring its CEO in commercials to extol their virtues. How to treat smartphone customers is what matters most right now. In Light Reading's recent survey on mobile data, 43 percent of respondents said that they expected 50 percent to 75 percent of their customers to be using smartphones by the end of 2013. On that basis alone, unlimited data plans might seem to make the most sense. They are not the only piece of the picture, however, as AT&T and Verizon have larger 4G LTE footprints than their smaller rivals and their top-performing 4G markets are faster. So if a user cares more about performance and coverage than price alone, then the big two could prove to be a better choice. There's another aspect to this as the U.S. gets completely saturated with smartphones. Operators are trying to supplement those sweet, sweet data revenues with traffic from other devices such as tablets, netbooks and even wireless carriers. Well, none of the big four operators offer an unlimited plan for tablets or 4G netbooks; these devices are too data-hungry and can even frighten operators with how much bandwidth they can consume. So, as people look to add devices beyond smartphones, shared data plans that allow you to add a tablet for $10 a month might well become more attractive rather than adding a separate plan for another device. I suspect that Sprint and T-Mobile USA will hold hard to their unlimited plans for as long as they can, since they see them as differentiating them from their larger rivals. In that case, they are going to need to get smart on how they add tablets and other devices to their customers' plates. There are probably ways to bundle tablets with sports and movie packages which, as usual, carriers are being slow to explore. Nonetheless, Pyramid Research is predicting that "2013 will mark the beginning of the end for unlimited data pricing." If that's the case, it's going to be a knock-down, drag-out fight of a year. For more

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
More Blogs from Jonestown
Cisco may not be in the 4G macro RAN but its investment in Altiostar is edging it closer than ever before.
AT&T Small Cells chief Gordon Mansfield is "skeptical" about the "small cells as a service" concept that MSOs have been talking up.
If Facebook buys a drone maker, it could be looking for a way to connect hard-to-network places around the globe.
Ready for the next level of big-data collection? Say "hi" to Google's 3D mapping "Project Tango" smartphone.
If, like me, you were wondering what the hell "fronthaul" is... well, this is the simplest explanation I could pull together.
Flash Poll
LRTV Documentaries
Cable Eyes Big Technology Shifts

4|16|14   |   03:02   |   (4) comments


US cable engineers are facing a lot of heavy lifting in the coming years, notes Light Reading Cable/Video Practice Leader Alan Breznick.
LRTV Custom TV
Maximizing Customer Experience & Assuring Service Delivery in an IP World

4|15|14   |   4:57   |   (0) comments


Steven Shalita, VP of Marketing, NetScout Systems, Inc., discusses the challenges cable/MSO operators face in assuring the delivery of new IP-based services. Key points include the value of proactively managing performance, and using rich analytics and operational intelligence to better understand service and usage trends, make smarter business decisions and ...
LRTV Documentaries
Bye-Bye DVD: Consumers Embrace Digital Video

4|10|14   |   04:17   |   (7) comments


Veteran video analyst Colin Dixon, founder and principal analyst of nScreenMedia, says research shows 56% are using digital video already.
LRTV Documentaries
Video: TW Cable Puts Multicast Gateways to the Test

4|8|14   |   04:13   |   (1) comment


Tom Gonder, a chief architect at Time Warner Cable, explains how its trial of multicast gateways is impacting IP-based video plans.
LRTV Custom TV
Managing & Monetizing Big Data in Operator Environments

4|7|14   |     |   (1) comment


At Mobile World Congress, Gigamon's Director of Service Provider Solutions, Andy Huckridge, and Heavy Reading Analyst Sarah Wallace discuss the 'big data' issues facing carriers and operators today.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Data Center Energy – Build Your Data Center in a Modular Way

4|7|14   |   2:13   |   (0) comments


Dr. Fang Liangzhou, VP Network Energy Product Line, shared his thoughts about the challenges for data centers during CeBIT 2014.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Agile Network Solution – An Overview of Huawei's Agile Network Solution

4|7|14   |   2:31   |   (0) comments


Ajay Gupta, Director of Product Marketing, Networking Product Line, gives an overview of the Agile Network Solutions during CeBIT 2014.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s eLTE Voice Trunking, Video and Data Applied for Railways

4|7|14   |   1:38   |   (0) comments


Gottfried Winter is the Sales Director at Funkwerk, a German specialist in GSM-r terminals and a long-time partner of Huawei. At CeBIT 2014, Winter talks to Light Reading about this partnership and the integration of enhanced voice trunking, video and data functions.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
LeaseWeb Speaks Highly of Huawei's Datacenter Products

4|7|14   |   1:37   |   (0) comments


Rene Olde Olthof, Operations Director LeaseWeb, talks about the next data center transformation during CeBIT 2014.
LRTV Documentaries
Comcast: Reshaping the Cable Network Architecture

4|3|14   |   07:11   |   (8) comments


Shamim Akhtar, Comcast's architect and senior director of network strategy, explains why the cable company is moving to a more distributed network architecture.
LRTV Custom TV
VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger at Mobile World Congress

4|1|14   |   3:41   |   (0) comments


VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger speaks to Heavy Reading about the value of virtualization spanning from the data center to service provider networks to mobile devices.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Analysts' Impressions of Huawei SoftCOM at ONS 2014

4|1|14   |   1:11   |   (0) comments


After visiting the Huawei booth at ONS, Lee Doyle of Doyle Research gives his appraisal of Huawei's SoftCOM solution.
Hot Topics
BlackBerry Invests in Healthcare IT Startup
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 4/15/2014
Volvo: AT&T HSPA+ Can Drive My Car
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 4/16/2014
T-Mobile Petitions Operators to Kill Overages
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 4/14/2014
Mobile Apps Susceptible to Heartbleed, Too
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 4/14/2014
Report: NFV/SDN Standards 'Myopic' on Service Management
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 4/16/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed