No surprises: UK mobile users love to chomp big data (updated)

Alex Walls
February 12, 2013

UK mobile broadband customers prefer usage plans but rank specific application plans a close second.If you happen to be looking for a good broadband plan, check out

Web browsing, email and security as the services customers were most willing to pay for, a new study has found.

Sponsored by mobile communications company Tekelec and conducted by Signals Research Group, the study surveyed online 3476 tablet or smart phone owners, or prospective owners in the next 12 months, who were over 16, from five countries.

Of these, 590 respondents were from the United Kingdom.

Respondents were asked to look at a list of pricing concepts that a local network operator could offer rather than a month by month data plan.   These included usage, or data plans, with a total amount of data offered per month, bandwidth or performance tier plans, which offered plans based on connection speed, family sharing plans, or a plan for a block of data shared across devices or family members, turbo button plans, or a basic data plan with low priority access but the option to hit a turbo button, giving high quality access and as much data as the user could consume for a much higher price, and specific application plans, allowing an amount of data available for specific applications, such as email, social networking and cloud storage.

Usage plans were the most appealing to both UK respondents, at 69%, and globally.   Specific application plans ranked a close second for UK respondents, at 63%, and ranked second globally.

Respondents from the United States and Korea chose Family Sharing plans as one of the most popular concepts; it was the most appealing concept in Korea at 68% and second most appealing in the US at 59%.   For the UK, this type of plan was fairly unappealing at 47%, second to last.

Turbo button was the bottom ranked concept in every country and stood at 44% in the UK.

Service bundles

When asked, were a network operator to offer a menu of services, including email, web browsing, social networking, Voice over Internet Protocol, television and movies, cloud and remote lock/wipe (security), and bundles of two, three or four of these services, what price respondents would pay, web browsing, email and security were the top services for the UK at 48%, 45% and 42% respectively.

These answers do not include respondents who answered $0 per month, indicating they were not interested in the service at any price, the report said, a category into which a large number of responses fell.

“Even the most popular individual bundles of services are unappealing to 40% of respondents.”

This most popular service was security, ranking at 60% in composite results, followed by web browsing at 58% and email at 57%.

For the UK, respondents were least willing to pay for cloud for business (25%), games (28%) and sports (29%).

Aggregated results showed that multiple bundles of services came on top, with the “vast majority” of respondents in each country willing to consider purchasing services on this basis, the reported said.

“No one would purchase a smartphone then install only a single application. In the same way, people who are open to the idea of purchasing specific bundles of services still demand choice. If an operator offers them two or three or four bundles of their choosing, they tend to be happy.”

Specific services not a surprise

Signals Research wireless economics vice president Randy Luening said the UK and USA were both in the early majority of mobile broadband adoption and the report saw a more mature interest in things that were very practical among the respondents.

The specific services rating second was not a surprise, Mr Luening said.     There were a number of 3G/4G capable devices that were not necessarily connected to a network, he said, and part of the survey looked to see whether there were segments that, given a restricted package with a focus on certain applications, would find this appealing, generally sold at a lower monthly price.

“What we actually found was a continuum of interest where people would pay a very small amount for a single bundle of service like in the UK that would be browsing, email, security and then would pay more for several of those packages put together and would pay a higher price yet for an inclusive bundle that has no restrictions along the line of what is commonly sold.   So that was an interesting finding.”

Across the board, the report saw a big jump in willingness to pay where users were able to pay for a selection of choices, not just one category, he said.   The report highlighted that consumers liked options, he said, and the UK as a market had more options for a casual user than many other countries.

“We were pleased to see that up to this point in time most operators have tended to differentiate either in terms of total usage or in some cases performance but as a broader range of core network capabilities become available to operators we believe that there’ll be other bases for differentiation and this might be one of them, at an application level.”

This would give a greater degree of consumer choice and would allow operators to get small amounts of revenue for devices not currently connected, Mr Luening said.

Average amount per bundle for a service

Disregarding answers of $0 per month, the report found that the average price UK respondents were willing to pay for web browsing was $US3.21 per month, $US3.07 for email and $US2.78 for security.

For two services, UK respondents were willing to pay $US5.74, for three services, $US8.77 and for four services, $US11.88.

The report used a purchasing power parity method, Mr Luening said, which used a conversion rate based on a world bank PPP figure of 70p per $US1, which gave consistent results across countries from a pricing perspective.

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