More than 50 percent of U.S. smartphone owners who say they have unlimited data showed interest in plans that allow customization, speed guarantees, or sharing of data on family plans for multiple devices, according to a new report from research firm Strategy Analytics.
The firm's "Mobile Broadband Opportunities" report highlights the fact that despite a cleave in the U.S. wireless industry between carriers that continue to offer unlimited smartphone data plans (Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile USA) and those that do not (Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T)), customers really just want more control over their plans.
The report found that "in the U.S., U.K., and China, 60 percent or more of smartphone owners show interest in monitoring data use in real-time on their device while over half say they would like to be able to customize their plans," according to a Strategy Analytics statement.
Although customers can track their data usage fairly easily via carrier services, most plans still do not offer much in the way of customization beyond access to a particular kind of network technology. Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Data Sense service for its Windows Phone 8 operating system, which Verizon supports and AT&T is thinking of supporting, shows users how much data each app is using, and it can notify a user when they begin approaching their monthly data allotment, among other things.
The report notes that while Sprint and T-Mobile have staked their competiveness on offering unlimited plans, Verizon and AT&T have been busy pushing their LTE plans and shared family data plans with unlimited tethering and voice and texting.
"The operator who is first to market with new user-friendly capabilities for personalizing mobile plans, including premium options for guaranteed speed, may win in this next wave of mobile life," said Strategy Analytics analyst Susan Welsh de Grimaldo. "Today's mobile phone owners indicate they are ready for new levels of customization in their mobile plans--my mobile, my way--with an easy tool to track usage so that they remain in control."
AT&T said that as of the end of the fourth quarter more 6.6 million customers, or 9 percent of its postpaid subscribers, had signed up for its Mobile Share plans. Verizon, which launched its Share Everything plans at the end of June, said that as of the end of the fourth quarter 23 percent of its postpaid customers were on the plans.
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Correction, Feb. 11, 2013: This article originally incorrectly stated that Verizon did not provide a figure for what percentage of its customers were on its Share Everything plans at the end of the fourth quarter. Verizon said 23 percent of its posatpid customers were on the plans at the end of the fourth quarter.