Ericsson survey finds mobile consumers want 'sense of unlimited'

Thursday 18 January 2018 | 15:17 CET | News

Smartphone users are looking for a sense of limitless data and many would be satisfied with only some of the aspects of an unlimited plan, according to research by Ericsson's Consumer Lab. With many mobile customers concerned about overage charges, they are interested in unlimited-type features such as data rollover and zero-rated data, the survey found. 

According to the report, 70 percent of current subscribers to unlimited plans are not the heaviest mobile data users. On average they use 2.5 times more Wi-Fi than mobile data. The main reason to buy unlimited plans is to avoid bill shock, as half of all mobile users experience 'data distress', limiting their usage due to concerns about the costs of exceeding their data allowance. 

To give customers a 'sense of unlimited', rather than full unlimited plans, operators can offer data rollover, a feature 32 percent of consumers said they want. Almost a quarter are interested in zero-rated data for social media apps, and 15 percent want zero-rated data for video and music streaming. Twelve percent want the ability to change their data bucket each month, and the same percentage want a bigger bucket at only a marginally higher price. 

Looking at the most favoured option of data rollover, Ericsson found that many consumers would like to be able to use their data as currency. On average, smartphone users are left with 31 GB of unused data each year, or 40 percent of their monthly allowance. This could be gifted to friends, exchanged for goods or services or saved for future use. 

The survey also looked at consumer expectations for 5G. The most common expectation is faster speeds, at 31 percent of those questioned, followed by better coverage, faster than Wi-Fi and lower prices, all cited by 13 percent. 

The results are based on a survey of 14,000 smartphone users aged 15-65, in 14 countries around the world (Argentina, Brazil, China, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, the UK and the US). 

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