Telecoms set to offer customized data plans to boost revenue?

Considering the findings of Strategy Analytics research report on mobile data demands of consumers, it is time for telecoms to offer customized data plans to make more revenue.

At present, Indian telecom operators such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular, Reliance Communications, Tata Docomo, Aircel, etc. do not have adequate customized data plans. But Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Aircel, etc. have selective customized voice plans.

Also read: Idea Cellular adds i-Plan, follows MyPlan from Airtel

Strategy Analytics in its report — Wireless Operator Strategies service: Consumers Interested in New Mobile Data Plan Options – said 60 percent of mobile phone owners want to customize their plans, and 50 percent are ready to directly purchase more data in real-time from their device after monitoring data use.

The report is indicative of the demand for better data plans from telecoms. Mobile data is also a strong revenue growth driver for telecoms such as Vodafone.

Vodafone data strategies

Last week, Vodafone said its data usage increased 102 percent during the first quarter of fiscal 2014-15. Data from 3G rose 185 percent and 2G at 67 percent, primarily driven by 28 percent increase active data users and a 46 percent surge in the data usage per customer.

Telecom network vendor Ericsson last week said most Indian telecom service providers are looking at investing heavily in 3G networks. Vodafone India deployed nearly 2,300 new 3G sites in India, as part of Project Spring program announced earlier. Ericsson also said Indian mobile users are ready to pay more if they can better quality of service.

Also read: Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao on Indian telecom market

The following statistics may not be huge for putting in investments here. Vodafone has 57 million data customers including 10 million 3G customers, with 29 million smartphone users, representing a 17 percent penetration of the total user base.

Data is growing for all top operators. For instance, mobile data of Vodafone accounts for 11 percent of service revenue compared to 7 percent a year ago.

Reflecting its strategy on 3G plans, Vodafone India aims to have 95 percent 3G outdoor coverage in targeted urban areas over the next three years. It has taken the 3G coverage on this footprint to 89 percent.

Mobile data revenue overtakes voice income

Strategy Analytics, which surveyed over 500 mobile phone users in each of six mobile markets (China, France, Germany, Spain, the UK and the USA), said 60 percent of mobile phone users are interested in customization of their service plan, with particularly high interest in China (74 percent), the US (67 percent) and the UK (58 percent).

The survey did not cover India, the second largest telecom market in the world — based on mobile user base.

In China, interest in plan option for unlimited social network access is 62 percent.

In France, more than 2x users are more willing to accept continued use at lower speeds when they reach their data limit than those who are prepared to buy additional data.

In Germany, over a quarter of mobile phone users see appeal of buying an additional bucket of data beyond their original data cap.

In Spain, mobile users are much more willing to accept continued use at lower speeds when they reach their data limit, with over half selecting throttling, and only a fifth prepared to buy additional data bucket.

45 percent express an interest on plans based on selecting how many minutes of browsing, video and music they have rather than a bucket of MB or GB.

Baburajan K