Operators respond to data price challenge

More than half of global mobile operators have now ditched all-you-can eat price plans, as they begin to respond to the challenge of surging demand for data services, research by Allot Communications shows.
The network optimization firm found 51% of global carriers don’t offer unlimited plans, preferring instead to deploy application-aware or volume-based pricing models. Allot’s research found that 32% of operators had deployed app-aware billing by end 1H11, and 89% models including volume or service plan top-ups.
Allot’s regular data usage figures highlight the need for operators to focus on innovative pricing models. Mobile data bandwidth usage grew by 77% in the first half alone – equivalent to a CAGR of 213% - due mostly to a 93% surge in video streaming.
Rami Hadar, Allot’s president and chief, says operators are being challenged by rapid growth in over-the-top applications like Google’s YouTube – which alone consumed 52% of global mobile video streaming bandwidth in 1H11 -, but are beginning to fight back. “We are seeing operators taking the opportunity to evolve their service plans, away from ‘unlimited’ and towards application-aware models in order to meet this challenge,” he notes.
While video streaming remains the top-ranked application with an overall market share of 39% at end 1H11, it is voice over IP and instant messaging that stole the crown of fastest-growing application. Allot’s figures show the segment’s share of mobile bandwidth usage grew 101% in the first six months of 2011, giving it a market share of 4% by end-June.
File sharing accounted for 29% of mobile data usage during the period, with web browsing third on 25%.
Allot’s research – based on figures from global carriers with a combined user base of 250 million – also shows that Apple’s App Store remains by far the largest user of mobile data bandwidth, generating 84% of app download traffic in the first half of the year.
However, while Google’s Android store lagged in terms of overall data traffic (13%), it enjoyed the fastest growth in download traffic, growing the figure 196% in the six months to end-June.