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Study: Consumers Interested In New Cellular-Data Options

Boston — U.S. carriers are competing for subscribers by offering unlimited data or letting consumers share a bucket of data across multiple devices, but carriers could be missing out on other options of interest to consumers, a Strategy Analytics survey found.

More than 50 percent of U.S. smartphone owners who said they have unlimited data plans showed interest in plans that allow customization or speed guarantees, the research and consulting company said (see chart). Unlimited-data users are also interested in monitoring data use in real-time on their device, and 60 percent said they would like to be able to customize their plans.

“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 Susan Welsh de Grimaldo, mobile broadband opportunities director. “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.”

 Phil Kendall, wireless operator strategies director, pointed out that as wireless networks get congested, “today’s tiered data plans do not adequately address peak traffic challenges.” Although “operators with relatively empty new 4G networks may be able to sustain unlimited data as a value proposition for a short time, they may not be targeting the real pain points among consumers or networks.”

For their part, AT&T and Verizon Wireless are “sweetening their tiered data plans with unlimited voice and text bundles, no extra fees for tethering, as well as data share across multiple devices,” Strategy Analytics continued. “Yet the real story may be that consumers are looking for more control and personalization.”