By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor
Shared minutes have been a wild success for mobile operators, and the family plans have become the norm. But now consumers want shared data plans, too, since according to Alcatel-Lucent one in every four mobile users will have more than one device by 2016. Currently 60 percent of consumers want shared data plans, and that number is likely to grow.
Shared data plans are a boon for operators, so this trend should be embraced.
Users on shared plans typically opt for larger data buckets, for one. More than a quarter of subscribers for one leading carrier choose a data allowance of 10 GB per month or larger, according to a recent TechZine posting by Daisy Su Senior Strategic Marketing Manager, Corporate Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent, The Case for Shared Data Plans.
Households that choose a shared data plan typically spend $30 or more per month on shared data when it is coupled with unlimited voice and SMS, also noted the blog. Carriers in the study also saw strong single-digit service revenue growth for each quarter since the launch of shared data.
Shared data plans can help carriers accelerate 4G adoption, too.
“For example, six months after two mobile carriers introduced their new data plans, smartphone penetration among postpaid subscribers grew to 67 percent and 72 percent,” wrote the blog. “Nine months after the launch, one market leader moved more than half of data traffic onto its nationwide LTE network.”
Then there is keeping customers happy.
Shared data plans offer important benefits for subscribers, according to Su.
“By using a real-time, flexible mobile charging solution, the plans make it easy for subscribers to keep track of usage in real time and manage data across all their devices, on the move,” it noted.
Subscribers who use mobile data more cost-efficiently are less likely to find unexpected usage charges, and they have fewer bills to clutter their mailbox. This adds up to a happier customer.
Paving the way for shared data plans requires some thought by carriers, however. Their LTE coverage needs to be nationwide, explains Su. They need to add capacity, as data demand will grow. Operators should segment by attaching premium postpaid subscribers to the LTE network while building a strong prepaid brand that can keep the 3G network as full as possible without requiring new investment in the network. Also, carriers need to create value by extending shared data offerings beyond the consumer to include other markets such as SMB, large enterprise, M2M and others.
But if the foundation is laid properly, carriers can reap substantial benefits from the move to shared data plans.