A new survey of hundreds of wireless industry executives from around the world found strong support for a switch from flat-rate mobile data plans to usage-based models.
The survey, conducted for the London law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP by the Economist Intelligence Unit, found that 48 percent of executives surveyed predicted that carriers will focus on developing new mobile data pricing models over the next three years. Additionally, the survey showed that 55 percent of those surveyed agreed usage-based models are coming to mature markets, and 47 percent said flat-rate data plans are crimping their ability to increase revenue.
The survey was conducted in June and included 391 representatives from the mobile industry, spanning 55 countries. Participants included executives from software providers, mobile services providers, mobile network equipment providers, integrated fixed-wireless telecommunications operators, mobile network operators, value-added services providers and content providers.
Among other findings: In mature markets, 37 percent of respondents anticipate application downloads will be a main revenue source in the next three years, exceeding voice (36 percent) and video downloads (32 percent).
The drive toward usage-based pricing in the U.S. market got a jumpstart this June when AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) decided to move to a usage-based model for its 3G network. Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) has repeatedly indicated it likely will employ a usage-based model when it launches its LTE network later this year. However, Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) CEO Dan Hesse has said the carrier does not plan to switch from an unlimited data model in the near future.
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