The latest swing back to unlimited data plans has serious consequences
India and the Reliance Jio effect
The latest entrant into mobile world, Reliance Jio has not just prompted mobile users to consume mammoth amount of mobile data but also, it has apparently helped the nation to set a record when it comes to overall consumption. The impact of unlimited data plans and free data usage statistics paint an interesting picture as mobile data rallied to record highs in India.
In 2013, the average data consumed per subscriber per month in India was 172 MB. Last year, a record 700-750 MB of data has been listed as per statistics. Whereas for the year 2017, the average consumption of data has already ascended to 2600 MB per user per month – all thanks to the unlimited data plans that was kick off by Reliance Jio.
Also, the generation of revenues from mobile data has rose marginally from 6% in 2013 to 33% in 2017. Going by the trends and market forecast, the average consumption of mobile data is likely to grow to 5G+ per user per month by end of this year. Conversely, the stats showcase a very marginal change for last three years – 2014, 2015 & 2016.
AT&T recently had little choice but to join the industry trend—offering unlimited data plans to everyone who needs it. The carrier used to restrict its unlimited data plans to customers who purchase its pay-TV subscription on either U-verse or DIRECTV, which cost between $14 and $60 per month, respectively.
However, AT&T recently decided to stop tying its unlimited data plan to its pay-TV subscriptions, following the footsteps of its main rival Verizon. VZ recently brought back its unlimited data plans for all customers. For the larger players like AT&T and Verizon, a return to unlimited data offering is viewed strategically as a revenue sacrifice.
Bring on the (free) content
You just sign on to your new unlimited plan, now what can you do with it? Well it’s all about content. And those Telcos that have made the foray into media are now trying to figure out how it all fits together. As of Thursday, the No. 2 carrier has added free HBO to its Unlimited Plus wireless plan, according to a news release.
That means customers get free access to “Game of Thrones” and “Westworld,” among other popular, award-winning programming. It usually costs an additional $5 to $10 a month to subscribe to HBO.
The new plans tweak AT&T unlimited plan announced in mid-February after Verizon began offering an unlimited data plans. The moves ignited a carrier price war with T-Mobile and Sprint. Initially, AT&T’s unlimited plan cost $100 for the first line and $160 for up to four lines.
The two new plans give customers more options to control expensive overage fees while offering incentives to bundle wireless and pay TV-service through DirecTV, which AT&T acquired for $49 billion in 2015.
The impact on AT&T for returning to unbundled unlimited data plans could come in several ways. Some of the customers who paid less because they limited their data consumption could be encouraged to get on the unlimited plans where they have more data at a higher cost.