Category Archives: data monetisation

Unlimited moves the needle – but it’s when mobile addresses slow fixed internet that something happens

New! Mobile data usage and revenue for 36 countries

This is tefficient’s 19th 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. But the growth rates are very different and so are the usage levels. Unlimited moves the needle. Finland tops the charts in usage – but it’s India that leads the growth league.

Data-only is a very important driver of usage. Austria is now the clear world leader in fixed-line substitution.

In Korea, the share of data traffic on 4G has now effectively reached 100% with a 4G penetration of 80%. The country is ready for 5G.

A prerequisite for continued data usage growth is that the total revenue per gigabyte is low. This is not the case in Greece, Canada and Belgium. The total revenue per gigabyte there is roughly 20 times higher than in Finland and more than 35 times higher than in India.

In this analysis we again use the Christmas tree visualisation to identify the countries where the more-for-more initiatives of operators buck the general more-for-less trend.


Download analysis: Unlimited moves the needle – but it’s when mobile addresses slow fixed internet that something happens


Updated version 18 July – Czechia wasn’t displayed for 2017 in Figure 1, 2 and 5 – now corrected

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 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

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.

Bundles and churn: Nexterday North 2017

Also the 2017 version of Nexterday North was a true ‘anti-seminar’ with futuristic and insightful speakers in a great, sometimes quirky, mix. May Comptel‘s spirit thrive also now that it is a part of Nokia.

This year, tefficient held a keynote presentation focused on bundles and the effect on churn.

Continue reading Bundles and churn: Nexterday North 2017

The luxury of the commodity gigabyte

Data usage, traffic and revenue per GB for 111 operators

This is tefficient’s 16th public analysis on the development and drivers of mobile data.

It is an add-on to our just-published analysis “More for more” isn’t happening which compares 33 countries.

In this analysis we compare operators. We have ranked 111 of them based on: Continue reading The luxury of the commodity gigabyte