Ericsson: Operators to face new challenges with data sharing

Future consumers will place further requirements on shared data plans in terms of new services and capabilities, according to a new report from Ericsson ConsumerLab.

In a report called Embracing Data Sharing, the Sweden-based equipment manufacturer found that the typical shared data plan user will be different in the future, with more data-hungry smartphone users signing up.

"We found that about one quarter of smartphone users currently on shared data plans are 'power users', who consume large amounts of mobile data," said Jasmeet Singh Sethi, senior advisor at Ericsson ConsumerLab. "In the future, this proportion is expected to rise by 42 per cent, which would equal 40 per cent of all shared plan users across the six markets that we studied: Brazil, India, Japan, South Korea, the UK and the U.S."

Data-sharing plans--which allow a certain volume of data to be shared among multiple devices or users--are viewed as a solution to the problem of managing a growing number of devices per user. In the markets surveyed, Ericsson noted that a typical smartphone user household has at least six digital devices: three internet users; two mobile internet subscriptions; and an additional connectivity option such as fixed broadband. This results in multiple bills and data plans.

"The growing number of options available is creating a high level of complexity in managing multiple subscriptions," said Singh Sethi. "Consumers think shared data offerings can help solve this digital connectivity conundrum."

However, operators already face challenges in meeting the demands of data-hungry users: Ericsson noted that 46 per cent of consumers are discontented when it comes to understanding price plan options and billing, while two out of five are dissatisfied with the ability to track, modify and monitor their usage.

What's more, such users also now increasingly expect new capabilities such as linking their fixed broadband data allowances to such plans and free access to exclusive movie and TV content.

"Consumers are ready to embrace shared data plans, but understanding consumers' needs and expectations will help maximise consumer satisfaction," added Singh Sethi.

As things stand, the adoption of shared data plans varies considerably by market.  In the U.S., for example, 26 per cent of smartphone users surveyed are on such plans, while the corresponding figure for India and Brazil is only 5 per cent, Ericsson noted.

For more:
- see the report from Ericsson ConsumerLab

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