A recent survey commissioned by Finnish operator, Elisa, suggests that Finland can expect a healthy surge in mobile data usage in 2007.

The survey of 2,400 Finnish subscribers of the country’s three operators – Elisa, TeliaSonera and Finnish 2G – showed that 82.4 per cent plan to use some form of data services in the near future.

The figure is far in excess of the 42 per cent of customers who were using such services in October 2006. The number had already jumped from 30.2 per cent in March, according to the survey.

Consumers surveyed were mainly decision-makers in corporate environments, who have been identified as early adopters of mobile services. Although this may not appear to be a representative sample, Marko Karttunen of Soprano, the marketing communications company that carried out the research, says it gives an indication of the extent to which general consumers will use data in the future.

Karttunen admits, however, that the particular type of service customers use may vary across the population as a whole.

Among the sample surveyed, the most popular service was e-mail, with 55 per cent of customers planning to use it in the near future. Some 23.9 per cent were already using it in October.

Web browsing, maps and navigation were also popular, with around 45 per cent of users intending to use each of those services. The least-popular services surveyed were music downloads and video calls, with figures of 17.7 per cent and 21.7 per cent, respectively.

Matti Vikkula, Elisa’s vice-president, says part of the reason consumers are willing to spend on data services is that voice calls are so cheap in Finland.

Data usage should also be spurred by the increasing volume of 3G subscribers in Finland. The country’s three operators had an estimated 640,000 3G customers at end-2006, up from almost 78,000 at end-2005.

This story first appeared in Telecoms.com’s sister publication, Mobile Communications Europe.