While traffic expansion for mobile data services can reach 50% CAGR until the year 2014, the actual revenue growth from data services may only amount to 13% CAGR for the same time period (source: OVUM).
The subscribers already used to the “freedom” of unlimited data plans may of course be annoyed by such a change (e.g. no more video streaming). Despite the fact that current contracts will not usually be affected (thus, existing customers still have the chance to benefit from limitless data usage until the end of the contract period), new subscribers will have the “privilege” of choosing a new, limited data plan, and will potentially have to change their usage habits.
Introduction of a monthly data quota will also have an effect on the businesses of third party service providers. For example, streaming services such as YouTube and Spotify will suffer from the data caps, because subscribers will have to pay more attention to their mobile data usage. Of course, third party service providers can cooperate with the operators (e.g. video on-demand with guaranteed bandwidth) via a revenue-sharing scenario, where the operator charges a specific fee from the service provider.
On the other hand, the removal of unlimited data plans brings additional revenue opportunities for operators. Mobile data offerings can be customized, basing on individual subscriber habits. For example, expect to see the following types of promotions in the near future: “6 hours of smartphone web surfing for 10 EUR per month”, “Facebook-only mobile data service for 5 EUR per month” and ”2 hours of YouTube viewing (with high bandwidth and without latency) for 8 EUR per month”. These examples can be offered as an add-on service, or as an individual data service. A customer may only be interested in using his smartphone for updating his Facebook status, as opposed to using his smartphone for visiting other websites too.
Are you willing to pay extra for your favorite services? Will the removal of unlimited data plans affect your smartphone usage habits?