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Unlimited mobile data plans: evaluating impact and developing best practice

Aris Xylouris Analyst, Research
Stephen Sale Research Director, Consumer Services

"Operators need to plan for the end of the volume-based approach to mobile pricing."

Unlimited mobile data plans are making their comeback, with an acceleration of activity in 2017. This comeback brings renewed fears about the ability of mobile network operators (MNOs) to monetise potential rapid increases in traffic growth while controlling costs. More fundamentally, operators are concerned about losing the ability to structure mobile pricing around data usage and the longer-term effect this has on their pricing/business models.

This report answers the following questions.

  • What effect do unlimited mobile tariffs have on data traffic, and should an MNO consider the increased traffic a hindrance? What policies could an MNO use to contain this?
  • What are the different types of unlimited mobile data plans? Are they purely unlimited, speed-based rather than data-size-based offers? What are some common fair-usage policies (FUP) that are applied?
  • Where does an operator go after unlimited data plans? What are the options for upselling and how should their mobile tariffs be structured?
  • Can an MNO successfully compete against unlimited data plans without launching its own unlimited plans and if so how?

Operators mentioned in this report, include:

  • AT&T
  • Elisa
  • Play
  • Swisscom
  • T-Mobile

Short- and long-term approaches to mobile pricing in the context of moves towards unlimited data plans


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