Mobile users clam up, use more data, survey shows

Talk minutes are falling while data use is rising, but that may not mean more money, according to PwC

Mobile users in North America are hanging up and using email, text or social networking at a rapid pace, according to a survey by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Postpaid subscribers, who pay a regular bill for mobile service at the end of each month, spent an average of 673 minutes per month talking on the phone in the year as of June 30, 2012. That was down from 714 minutes per month a year earlier, while those same subscribers' monthly data use grew from 548MB to 694MB, according to a PwC survey of North American mobile operators released on Friday.

Cost-conscious consumers finally joining the mobile revolution is probably one reason for the fall in talk minutes, PwC said, but data services are definitely on the rise. Customers using new, faster networks are consuming 700 percent more data than the average subscriber. The average user of these so-called mobile broadband networks used about 4.8GB of data per month as of June 2012, up from about 3.6GB the previous June.

Smartphones are the gateway to these new mobile habits for many consumers. In June 2012, 56 percent of postpaid subscribers had smartphones, up from just 39 percent a year earlier, PwC reported. Tablets are playing a big role, too: For the average North American carrier surveyed, the number of tablet connections to the mobile network grew by almost 43 percent from 2011 to 2012.

The shift from voice to data has big implications for carriers, and it's not all good news. The average revenue per user for postpaid customers with smartphones fell between 2011 and 2012, from US$82.75 to $77.79 per month. What data services add to a monthly bill may be offset by purchases of smaller voice plans.

However, carriers are shaking up their service plans in ways that might hold off dwindling voice revenues. For example, the new shared data plans from Verizon Wireless and AT&T charge subscribers a monthly rate per device, regardless of talk time, so those who talk less pay the same as others.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags telecommunicationconsumer electronicsCarrierssmartphonesmobilePricewaterhouseCoopers

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?