Report: 45% of operators now offer at least one zero-rated app

Around 45 per cent of mobile operators worldwide now offer at least one zero-rated application, and the zero-rated app in 65 per cent of these cases is Facebook.

This is one of the findings of the latest MobileTrends Charging Report from service optimisation and revenue generation specialist Allot Communications, which also noted that 85 per cent of operators are now using apps to attract customers and increase average revenue per user (ARPU). Zero-rated content or applications means that subscribers are able to use applications or content without draining their data allowances.

"The findings of the latest Allot MobileTrends Charging Report show that operators are connecting more and more to the digital lifestyle of their customers as they move from selling gigabytes to selling services and applications-centric benefits," said Allot Communications AVP of marketing, Yaniv Sulkes.

Indeed, the report also claimed to show definitive proof that unlimited data plans are in terminal decline, with the percentage of operators offering such plans decreasing from 35 per cent to 15 per cent in the period from 2012 to 2014.

In many markets in Europe, for example, Hutchison Whampoa's 3 group is often the only operator with an unlimited mobile data plan, such as its "all you can eat" data plans in the UK. At the same time, 3 has not traditionally been as competitive on inclusive value-added services. For example, Vodafone has focused heavily on inclusive services such as music and sport within its Red tariffs.

Nonetheless, 3 has now started to get into the zero-rating game: Spotify Premium streaming music is now available to 3 Austria mobile users for €9.99 ($13.54) a month, and the streaming music usage is not deducted from data plans.

One caveat on zero rating comes from a recent report in the U.S., however: some T-Mobile US customers said they are still incurring data charges from using Spotify despite a recently introduced Music Freedom plan that exempts that data from counting toward customers' data caps

Other findings from the Allot report are that operators offering shared data plans with shared data caps increased from 29 per cent to 42 per cent from 2012 to 2014. Indeed, shared data is becoming increasingly evident among national European operators such as Vodafone, O2, T-Mobile, and many more.

Furthermore, operators are also increasingly entering into partnerships with over-the-top (OTT) providers, which chimes with the findings of a recent FierceWireless:Europe report. According to the Allot report, 37 per cent of operators had at least one OTT partnership in the first half of 2014, up from 26 per cent in 2012.

The Allot MobileTrends Charging Report H1 2014 surveyed the data plans and charging trends of 175 mobile operators worldwide, covering more than 2.4 billion mobile subscribers globally.

For more:
- see the Allot MobileTrends Charging Report for H1 2014

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