Category Archives: mobile data usage

Why is there a best before date on mobile data?

Fresh milk and mobile data seem to share the same bacteria problem. Even if treated carefully, it eventually goes sour. To protect consumers from a possibly unpleasant experience, dairy producers put a best before date on milk cartons. Mobile operators go further – they revoke unused mobile data before those gigabytes have become a health hazard.

But consumers have started to question if unused data really is unhealthy and deserve a similar down-the-drain treatment as sour milk. Clever mobile operators realised that they can offer rollover data. One of the pioneers globally is New Zealand’s 2degrees. In this video they ask what is happening to all that leftover data.

So is this just another plug on rollover? It’s hardly new – we wrote about in already in January 2015. No, it’s not about rollover. Because even though rollover is a good thing, operators are still limiting it:

  • Saved data is voided after 1 month (as with e.g. Virgin Media)
  • Saved data is voided after 1 year (as with e.g. 2degrees)
  • You can save a maximum of 100 GB in your account (as with e.g. Telia, Hallon and Vimla in Sweden)
  • You can save 3x the monthly allowance (as with ‘3’ in Austria)
  • You can save as much as the monthly allowance (as with e.g. all Norwegian operators)

Let’s be clear: All of these implementations are of course still much better than no rollover at all – which is the case for a majority of operators worldwide.

But the business model is still to take something away that customers have bought – and sell it back.

Add-on data is often treated worse than regular data – albeit more pricey. If you run out of data a certain month, operators offer you to buy additional data – often at a premium compared to how much you paid for the data in your regular allowance. Whereas operators are broadcasting their pricing of regular plans, the information around add-ons is often well hidden.

But in many cases – UK’s Tesco Mobile and the two Swedish operators ‘3‘ and Telenor are some examples – add-on data expires at the same time as your monthly allowance, i.e. in less than a month. Let’s say your billing month ends the 25th. The day before, the 24th, you get an SMS stating that you’ve now run out of data. As you can’t imagine a life without it, you buy 1 GB of add-on data for 9.9 EUR. You actually just use 0.3 GB of that data but the remaining 0.7 GB is voided the day after, the 25th.

Some operators treat add-on data better: O2 and ‘3’ in the UK let it live for 30 days, Telia in Sweden for 31 days and Tele2 in Sweden for 6 months.

But even premium add-on data is eventually voided.

So also with add-on data, the business model is to take something away that customers have bought – and sell it back.

A vast majority of consumers – 76% to be exact – want their unused mobile data not to expire and instead roll over. This is shown in fresh research from Ericsson ConsumerLab.

But many operators have painted themselves into a corner as they have super-sized their mobile data buckets – relying on that the unused data anyhow is voided by the end of the month. France is a good example of the imbalance between buckets and consumption: The average French non-M2M SIM uses about 2.5 GB of mobile data in a month. But a 20 EUR per month plan in France comes with a bucket of 20 to 100 GB.

If the French operator Free – that offers 100 GB of mobile data on a stand-alone plan for 19.99 EUR per month – would allow customers to save unused data, their average 19.99 EUR customer (who consumed 8.4 GB of data per month by the end of 2017) would accumulate more than 1000 GB of unused data in a year. Yes, one terabyte.

This gives us one key to understand why unlimited mobile data suddenly has become popular among operators.

By leaving the bucket plan, operators that have painted themselves into the bucket inflation corner can jump out of it. Unlimited operators aren’t selling gigabytes. Therefore they do not need to get involved in the questionable practice of revoking unused gigabytes. They don’t risk having to refund unused data as e.g. Google’s Project Fi and UK’s Smarty (picture below) do.

Unlimited customers consume the data they consume and will no longer think about best before dates. It’s a relief for everybody.

The future lies in monetising customer satisfaction and customer loyalty, not in monetising gigabytes.

The world’s best 4G LTE isn’t getting faster

OpenSignal, the company that crowdsources mobile speed and availability experiences from smartphone users worldwide, released its latest State of LTE report today.

It is based on 59 billion measurements and shows that 4G LTE speeds in the fastest countries are in a holding pattern where they don’t increase. The availability of 4G LTE is still improving though, and five countries have now joined the 90% of time club. Three months ago, that club only had two members.

Continue reading The world’s best 4G LTE isn’t getting faster

The secret behind Elisa’s financials

The Finnish-Estonian operator Elisa just published its 4Q 2017 results. And it was a new record in revenue and profitability.

How is that even possible? Readers of our public analysis of mobile data usage know that Finland is the mobile data usage powerhouse of the world – and that Elisa is no exception.

But Elisa doesn’t charge per gigabyte – so where is the revenue growth coming from? How can the company make more profit when it needs to handle all that traffic? This blog reveals their secret. Continue reading The secret behind Elisa’s financials

Six calls to action – directly from consumers

Ericsson ConsumerLab today published a new consumer and industry insight report titled Towards a 5G consumer future.

The research insights are based on a survey of 14000 Android and iOS smartphone users between 15 and 65 in fourteen countries: Argentina, Brazil, China, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, the UK and the US.

To prepare this consumer research, we worked with Ericsson ConsumerLab to analyse and benchmark the mobile data strategies of operators globally. When we had the research results, we jointly reviewed them.

The findings can be summarised in six calls to action – from consumers for operators: Continue reading Six calls to action – directly from consumers

Analysis and recommendations on mobile proposition refresh

Reference: Analysis and Go-to-market, 2017

Building and interactively presenting a comprehensive before/after analysis of international mobile propositions and their effects on customer intake, customer loyalty, revenue growth and data usage.

Emphasis on how to maximise the effect of e.g. unlimited data, zero-rated services, group & family plans and time-based offers in post- and prepaid propositions. Mapping the propositions to customers segments with a reward-for-wanted-behaviour logic balancing between general availability and segment exclusivity. Continue reading Analysis and recommendations on mobile proposition refresh

Spotting the operators capable of monetising the data usage growth

Data usage, traffic and revenue per GB for 124 operators

This is tefficient’s 18th public analysis on the development and drivers of mobile data. It follows on our just-published analysis “More for less” tips the balance that compares 35 countries.

We have ranked 124 operators based on average data usage per SIM, total data traffic and revenue per gigabyte.

The data usage per SIM grew for all operators. And it grows quickly. But what happens to ARPU? Have operators been able to monetise usage growth following the more-for-more mantra? Continue reading Spotting the operators capable of monetising the data usage growth

“More for less” tips the balance

Mobile data usage and revenue for 35 countries

This is tefficient’s 17th public analysis of the development and drivers of mobile data.

Mobile data usage is still growing in all of the countries covered by this analysis. The growth rates are very different and so are the usage levels. Finland tops the charts in usage – but not in growth.

Data-only is a clear driver of usage. Austria emerges as the fixed-line substitution leader. In Korea, the share of data traffic on 4G has now effectively reached 100%. In mature markets, the 4G upside on data usage is mainly a thing of the past. Continue reading “More for less” tips the balance

Who has the best network in the Nordics?

There are several ways to measure network performance and the results of published tests can therefore differ.

Mobile operators have a tendency to criticise test results when they have lost and promote results when they have won.

An example of this is the recent drivetest by Connect Magazine in Switzerland as performed by P3 Group. Whereas Salt seems furious – the CEO-commented release is an interesting read – Sunrise uses the results in its marketing.

Who will be the first operator – anywhere – to complain about a test methodology after having won?

What differs even more than the network test results is the perception of network quality. For an operator it is much more important that its customers are having the perception of the best network than actually having the best network. Continue reading Who has the best network in the Nordics?

Carriers moved away from subsidizing handsets. Now they subsidize customers’ video consumption.

Mobile operators are abandoning the previously predominant model to subsidize handsets and to, in return, lock customers in on long contracts with elevated service fees.

The death of the model should be mourned by no one since end-users have been given choice and flexibility through a multitude of non-binding, cheaper and flexible service options with generous – or even unlimited – allowances. Operators have seen customer churn decrease as end-users hold onto their handsets longer. As a direct consequence, EBITDA margins have increased.

Investors might still complain about the revenue growth, but measured as percentage of revenue mobile carriers currently produce the best margins on record. Continue reading Carriers moved away from subsidizing handsets. Now they subsidize customers’ video consumption.

Speaker at Wi-Fi World Congress Europe 2017

Analysis & go-to-market 2017

Preparing and presenting “How carriers are using Wi-Fi to boost their businesses” for attendees at the Wi-Fi World Congress Europe in The Hague 2 November.

The presentation covered:

  • The latest stats on mobile data usage per country
  • A reflection over what EU’s Roam Like at Home implementation has meant for Wi-Fi
  • Stats on smartphones’ time distribution between Wi-Fi and cellular per country
  • A comparison between fixed and mobile data usage
  • The unlimited mobile data trend
  • Three reasons why operator Wi-Fi still is relevant – video subsidisation, indoor coverage and cost
  • Operator Wi-Fi deployment stats from around the world
  • Wi-Fi stats from Hong Kong and Korea
  • Key takeouts

The conference organisers summarised the presentation in this live post: LIVE from The Hague: The Wi-Fi vs. Mobile debate

If you’d like to see the full presentation, it has now been made available also on video: https://vimeo.com/242596226