Global mobile data services revenue to touch $314.7 billion in 2011

Mobile data services revenue will total $314.7 billion in
2011, a 22.5 percent increase from 2010 revenue of $257 billion. Worldwide
mobile connections will reach 5.6 billion in 2011, up 11 percent from 5 billion
connections in 2010, according to Gartner.


“Mobile data traffic will increase significantly as
more people will have access to mobile data networks, there is a migration toward
smartphones and an increase in sales of media tablets,” said Jessica
Ekholm, principal research analyst at Gartner. “Mobile data volumes will
continue to grow as mobile data networks become faster and more ubiquitous,
while at the same time the number of data users and data usage per user is
expected to grow.”


Data revenue will continue to grow but at a much slower
rate. This is causing a decoupling between revenue and data traffic, and it is
also creating an increase in network costs for carriers as they try to sustain
growing data traffic.


Worldwide mobile connections will experience steady
growth through 2015 when mobile connections are forecast to reach 7.4 billion,
and mobile data revenue will reach $552 billion.


In calculating its forecast, Gartner assumed there are
four major mobile data traffic drivers: growth in the number of mobile
connections, increasing availability of higher-speed data-centric mobile
networks, smartphones, and data-consuming content and applications.


A growing number of mobile connections will lead to
higher demands on communication service providers’ (CSPs’) data networks as
more people access the networks to use mobile data and to send text messages.


In addition to the total number of connections growing,
Gartner also expects that mobile data usage per connection will increase
throughout the forecast period and that there will be a shift in mobile users’
perception of mobile data around the world, as data plans go from being seen as
a luxury, to being considered a nice-to-have service, to finally being
perceived as potentially essential.


Gartner expects communications service providers (CSPs)
to increasingly start moving toward offering more flexible and more
personalized data plans, which should help capture a larger mobile data user
base. CSPs have also upgraded their networks by offering faster download and
upload speeds to consumers, which have helped improve the general perception of
data quality and thus led to increased data uptake.


“What carriers currently need are innovative ways to
increase data revenue while finding smart solutions to manage a growing demand
in data,” said Sylvain Fabre, research director at Gartner. “Ultimately,
it will be the consumer who chooses the content he or she wants to use, and
carriers need to ensure that the quality of experience is good. A substandard
user experience may lead to higher churn.”


Gartner analysts said carriers should investigate the
pros and the cons of more customized pricing plans, such as tiered pricing, a
la carte and usage-based plans, carefully weighing additional costs and future
benefits. Additionally, CSPs should look to offer increased flexibility in
pricing and introduce add-on pricing models, in which users are able to add
data access when they want to. These add-on pricing models could include paying
for additional usage and additional speed, and charging a fee for voice over
Internet Protocol (VoIP) or for gaming.


By Team
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