Research firm Parks Associates conducted a study and found that nearly two-thirds of American’s are unwilling to pay $50 per month for mobile data. Though this finding is fairly obvious, it’s an important one for carriers to hear. Personally, I hate how expensive mobile data plans are becoming, when rates for in-home internet are dropping and some governments are blanketing their cities in free WiFi. Granted, I’m not sure carriers have quite reached the point where the price of data will naturally come down, but with tiered data plans and high-charges for 5GB+ of monthly data usage, it appears carriers are going in the wrong direction.
Parks Associates also found that a full 50% of mobile data users are completely unaware of how much data they’re using on a monthly basis, even as most carriers provide tools to monitor data usage. Frankly, I’m surprised that number isn’t a little higher, as the average consumer isn’t likely to go above the 2-3GB hard/soft caps put in place by AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.
The company’s mobile research director Harry Wang understands that these two trends spell potential risks for carriers, but find tiered and/or capped data plans necessary for carriers. Wang stated that the move to tiered data plans will be difficult and painful for consumers, but a necessary move if carriers are to maintain levels of revenue.
Fortunately, one carrier (Sprint) is still attempting to fight this trend, and will continue to offer unlimited data even after the LTE iPhone comes out. Today, unlimited data on Sprint doesn’t mean much, as they have the slowest 3G and 4G networks of the major 4 carriers, but that could all change once the nation is blanketed in Sprint’s LTE network set to roll out starting this summer.