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77% mobile data traffic growth in Q1

Mobile operators in developed markets experiencing a slow-down in traffic growth may want to look to emerging markets for ideas on unlocking growth in more cost-conscious segments. According to Strategy Analytics, micro-bundles for data, device and data plan combinations, and affordable smartphones have a role to play in any cost-conscious customer segment, irrespective of location.

These findings are based on data from Strategy Analytics’ Wireless Operator Performance Benchmarking database, which tracks the financial and operational performance of 247 active wireless operators, which collectively account for 80 per cent of the world’s cellular subscriptions.

Other key findings of the report include:
·         The top operators in terms of traffic growth in Q1 2015 were AIS Thailand (192 per cent), Geocell Georgia (176 per cent), Play Poland (163 per cent), Indosat Indonesia (159 per cent) and China Mobile (158 per cent).
·         2G traffic growth is still strong in India, where low-cost smartphone models remain in use. 2G accounted for 44 per cent of total data traffic at Idea Cellular in Q1 2015 and recorded 68 per cent annual growth, compared to the 135 per cent growth seen on Idea’s 3G network.
·         4G is dominant in markets such as the US, where Verizon Wireless saw 86 per cent of its traffic on the LTE network, and South Korea, where operators carried 96 per cent of their data traffic on 4G.
·         Advanced 4G markets reported slower traffic growth, for example in Singapore (25 per cent) and Hong Kong (34 per cent). These results are in line with the 26 per cent growth in US mobile data traffic recently reported by the CTIA for 2014.

Phil Kendall, Executive Director, Wireless Operator Strategies, said “Developing countries are behind the current boost to traffic growth rates. Some of this is down to emerging 4G opportunities, most notably in China, though it is mainly due to the growth in affordable 3G smartphones. Traffic stimulation strategies in these developing markets should not be overlooked by developed market operators trying to push 4G growth further into the mass market.”

Susan Welsh de Grimaldo, Director, Wireless Operator Strategies, commented “The positives in the traffic figures have not translated into faster revenue growth from non-SMS data services for operators, with data revenue growth falling below 20% globally for the first time. With monetization strategies built on upselling more data, operators will need to work harder to encourage users to consume more chargeable 3G and 4G data on more devices.”

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