Future consumers will place further requirements on shared data plans in terms of new services and capabilities, according to a report from Ericsson ConsumerLab. The report shows that the typical shared data plan user will be different in the future, with more data-hungry smartphone users signing up. Consumers are finding it hard to decipher shared plans and need real-time transparency. Two out of five users are dissatisfied with the limited ability to track, modify and monitor usage across users and devices.
Future consumers to demand more from shared data plans

In a report called Embracing Data Sharing, Ericsson ConsumerLab has taken a look at the consumer value of innovations such as shared data plans and how the introduction of such plans has impacted consumer behavior, as well as triggers and barriers to their adoption.

Smartphone users are most keen to see high data allowances in shared data plans, but unlimited voice and text messaging are also sought after. However, 20 percent of existing shared plan users have already started to look beyond these services and expect new capabilities – such as linking their fixed broadband data allowances to such plans – and free access to exclusive movie and TV content to be bundled in.

One of the most important conclusions from the report is that future shared data plan users will be very different from those of today, and that this will place new demands on operators.

Jasmeet Singh Sethi, Senior Advisor at Ericsson ConsumerLab, says: "We found that about one quarter of smartphone users currently on shared data plans are ‘power users’, who consume large amounts of mobile data.

"In the future, this proportion is expected to rise by 42 percent, which would equal 40 percent of all shared plan users across the six markets that we studied: Brazil, India, Japan, South Korea, the UK and the US."

Ericsson ConsumerLab found that consumers have several expectations of their shared data plans. They want:

  • a clear understanding of the cost involved
  • a simple and streamlined offering that remains unchanged, even in the event of promotions
  • real-time transparency and plan management
  • to enhance the value of such plans by extending to new connected devices like wearables
  • better app coverage (for heavy users).

Consumers are finding it hard to decipher the shared plans and need real-time transparency – 46 percent are discontented when it comes to understanding price plan options and billing, while two out of five are dissatisfied with the ability to track, modify and monitor their usage.

In the markets surveyed, a typical smartphone user household has at least six digital devices: three internet users; two mobile internet subscriptions; and an additional connectivity option such as fixed broadband. This results in multiple bills and data plans.

"The growing number of options available is creating a high level of complexity in managing multiple subscriptions," Singh Sethi says. "Consumers think shared data offerings can help solve this digital connectivity conundrum."

When it comes to the adoption of shared data plans, there is great variation between the markets studied. In the US, for example, 26 percent of smartphone users surveyed are on such plans, while the corresponding figure for India and Brazil is only 5 percent.

"Consumers are ready to embrace shared data plans, but understanding consumers’ needs and expectations will help maximize consumer satisfaction."

Read the report Embracing data sharing

Embracing data sharing (Presentation)