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Mobile services a $1tn industry, lifted by data

US smartphone users are open to using sponsored data plans driven by fear of exceeding their mobile data limit, according to research published today

Despite a projected fall in voice revenues, mobile services are expected to deliver $1tn in revenues in 2013, lifted by the boom in data usage.

Statistics released by analyst Informa Telecoms & Media on Friday predict that global data revenues will rise to over $330bn in 2013, up from an estimated $208bn in 2009.

In more advanced markets, the explosion in data services will be even more significant. Informa predicts that data revenues and data ARPU in Japan will actually surpass voice revenues and ARPU in 2014. At a time when Japan’s mobile operators are looking for more sustainable revenue streams by offering personalised services that make use of their high network capacity for data, the advent of LTE in Japan should help to support this boom. Informa projects that data revenues in Japan will reach $39.7bn in 2014, and that monthly data ARPU will be $24.56, the highest in the world.

The backdrop to this transition to data-centric mobile services is the domination of the internet and the pressure telecoms operators are facing to remain valuable and relevant in the eyes of their end users.

“As this happens, the growth in data revenues is being spurred by the rise in take up of more advanced technologies and mobile broadband services, as well as new handset interfaces and mobile content strategies based on application stores rather than walled gardens”, according to
Mark Newman, chief research officer at Informa.

Get more info on Informa’s Global Mobile Forecasts report

2G mobile technologies still account for 90 per cent of the world’s subscriptions, but by the end of 2012, this figure will fall to 70 per cent, and by the end of 2014, over half the world’s 6.7 billion mobile subscriptions will be moving onto 3G and 3.5G+ technologies. Furthermore, Informa projects that by the end of 2014, 3.5G+ technologies will represent over a third of the total number of subscriptions.

With global subscription penetration set to reach 92 per cent in 2014, and meaningful new growth only still available in rural parts of Africa and Asia Pacific, data service strategies are central to mobile operator strategies, both as a way to generate new revenues and to minimise the impact of churn at a time of intense competition between mobile network operators, the analyst says.

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