A survey of over 500 mobile phone users in each of six markets—China, France, Germany, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S.—indicates that consumers want more options to control and personalize the pricing of their data services. Sixty percent of mobile users want to be able to customize their plans, and 50 percent are interested in the ability to purchase more data directly from their devices, in real time.
Interest in plan customization is particularly strong in China (where 74 percent reported that they want it), the U.S. (67 percent) and the U.K. (58 percent). In China, interest in plan options for unlimited access to social media is especially high at 62 percent. In France, the number of users who are willing to accept continued use at lower speeds after data limits are reached is twice the number of those who would want to buy additional data. In Germany, over a quarter of mobile phone users see the appeal of buying an additional bucket of data beyond the original data cap. In Spain, mobile users are notably willing to accept continued use at lower speeds when they reach their data limit, with over half selecting throttling and only a fifth prepared to buy an additional data bucket. Forty-five percent express an interest in plans based on selecting how many minutes of browsing, video and music they use, rather than in a bucket of data.
As sophisticated markets reach saturation and mobile service becomes more and more of a commodity, competition among mobile operators is intensifying. As a result of that, consumers have more leverage than ever to demand what they want. As this study shows, what they want, by and large, is more control over their spending on data. The one-size-fits-all approach that derives revenue from charging users for data they do not use is likely a thing of the past. In the more affluent or aggressively growing economies such as the U.S., the U.K., Germany and China, the desire is more for flexibility, with users reporting that they would like the ability to add more data at will. In France and Spain, where budget-mindedness seems prevalent, users are more willing to accept throttling. In any case, in order to remain maximally competitive, MNOs are going to have to acknowledge these consumer needs and offer more customization across the board.