Will Unlimited Mobile Data Plans are here to go?
It is very obvious and natural to assume that any unlimited plan in anything is doomed to die unless proper planning and proper plans, discriminations and levels are created for that. Same will apply to the mobile / cellular data too.
Already in India many cellular operators are either openly removing the unlimited plan or coming out with a plan wherein after certain caps are reached they will start dramatically reducing the speed what is called throttling in the network traffic management space. Similar is happening in US too where AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are doing some combo of the above.
I am sure by now most of the cellular industry knows that unlimited plans are not here to stay and is just a matter of time when such plans will be completely slashed. With all the 2G spectrum chaos and many operators walking away, with few left, unlimited plan will be history. Also the exponential growth of smartphones and increase in the download of mobile data is putting a lot of strain on already stressed out bandwidth. With a lot of video streaming happening and its exponential growth is adding to the bandwidth consumption. This increased traffic is adding to the cellular operator’s infrastructure costs.
A last year study by Ericsson (http://www.ericsson.com/news/1478480) says that there are one billion mobile broadband subscriptions 2011 and by 2015 it would be touching close to 4 billion. As the penetration of smartphones increase (ofcourse exponentially) so will be the traffic of the bandwidth be it web pages, video streaming, remote monitoring data, music downloads, just to name a few. Cellular operators are better placed if they find a different long term solution rather than throttling. This ad-hoc all –gets-unlimited-plan-and-all-gets-throttled plan will kill the quality of service and the revenues from those who are ready to shell out big bucks for this. They need to come out with individualized plans to meet to varying degree of data plan support and tailor the plan to the need of the subscriber’s bandwidth hunger and offer consistent quality of service. Plan have to be not just planned around how much bandwidth they use but also according to their usage patterns on those who are addicted to social media to those who spend a lot of time on video streaming to those customers who do a lot of data downloads etc and create plans around it.
For that cellular operators need to invest more in network traffic management, analytics and smart policy control. Using the date they need to understand well the consumer groups, the usage patterns, then manage the traffic efficiently and create plans innovatively to keep them attractive, affordable and that plays to all segments of bandwidth users (to hoggers).