Worldwide mobile connections will reach 5.6 billion in 2011, from 5 billion connections in 2010, representing 11 percent increase, according to a report by Gartner. Mobile data services revenue will total USD 314.7 billion in 2011, a 22.5 percent increase from 2010 revenue of USD 257 billion. The report also says that 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 USD 552 billion.
"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, Gartner.
For generating the report, Gartner took into account 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. 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.
As per the report, 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. "Data revenue will continue to grow but at a much slower rate, causing a decoupling between revenue and data traffic, and creating an increase in network costs for carriers as they try to sustain growing data traffic," said Ekholm.
Gartner expects CSPs to increasingly start moving towards offering more flexible and more personalized data plans, which should help capture a larger mobile data user base. "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, Gartner.
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. As per Gartner analysts, CSPs should also 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 a fee for Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or for gaming.“Carriers should focus on increasing the level of clarity and the transparency of their mobile data contracts in order to make the majority of customers feel more at ease in using data services. This is particularly important when it comes to data roaming. Offering clients various ways of being able to track and monitor their data usage would help carriers receive a larger amount of revenue from more profitable lower-usage, medium-pay users," said Ekholm. source