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Despite data caps, more consumers are adding tablets to mobile data plans

May 8th, 2013 at 9:30 PM
Tablet Mobile Data Plan Growth

Do capped data plans make LTE connectivity a waste for tablets? Perhaps, but don’t tell that to the millions of people who are adding their tablets to their monthly shared plans. New research from Strategy Analytics has found that more than 40 million tablets are hooked up to either 3G or 4G mobile networks, roughly double the number of tablets that had data plans for 3G and 4G networks in 2012. The firm projects that there will be around 165 million tablets on mobile data plans by 2017, an eight-fold increase from the number of tablets on data plans in 2012. Strategy Analytics analyst Susan Welsh de Grimaldo notes that “while direct mobile broadband subscriptions on tablets represent less than 10 percent of the total tablet installed base in 2012, they were a key driver of positive postpaid net additions at leading operators AT&T and Verizon Wireless in Q1 2013.” The firm’s full press release is posted below.

Strategy Analytics: 4G LTE and Shared Data Plans to Fuel 8x Growth in Mobile Broadband Tablet Subscriptions

Tablet data plan momentum builds despite continued smartphone boom

BOSTON, May 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Despite continued strong growth of smartphones and the prevalence of WiFi only tablets, mobile broadband subscriptions on connected tablets will expand rapidly in the next five years. Strategy Analytics forecasts global mobile broadband subscriptions on tablets will grow 8x from 2012 to 2017—as more than 165 million new tablets activate mobile data services.

The Strategy Analytics Wireless Operator Strategies (WOS) service report, “Tablets at Mobile Operators: Forecasts of Tablet Subscriptions, Data Traffic, Service Revenue 2010-2017,” projects that in 2017 global mobile tablet subscriptions will contribute nearly US$20 billion to operator service revenues and generate almost 3 and a half million Terabytes of mobile data traffic. With the new iPad setting the technology benchmark, 4G LTE quickly becomes the access technology of choice and will account for more than 80 percent of all mobile broadband tablet subscriptions by the end of 2017.

The most important near-term driver for tablet subscriptions is operator tariffs that aim to stimulate more tablet connections. In particular, service plans allowing multiple devices to share a pooled data allocation on a single data plan, such as those offered by AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Turkcell and later this year the Vodafone Red plans, are driving subscriptions directly on tablets, as are lower cost SIM-only prepaid tariffs for tablets. Other approaches to drive connections include bundling connectivity options out-of-the-box for tablets, such as the 4G Connect “comes-with-data” model launched by T-Mobile USA and HP initially on notebooks or the just announced Dell NetReady solution offering integrated 3G mobile connectivity from Telefonica for notebooks and tablets in a pan-European, pay-as-you-go model targeting enterprises.

“Mobile broadband tablets represent an important incremental growth opportunity for wireless operators. While direct mobile broadband subscriptions on tablets represent less than 10 percent of the total tablet installed base in 2012, they were a key driver of positive postpaid net additions at leading operators AT&T and Verizon Wireless in Q1 2013,” notes Susan Welsh de Grimaldo , Director, Wireless Operators & Networks at Strategy Analytics.

Phil Kendall , Director, Wireless Operator Strategies, adds, “US, China, Japan and UK will be leading markets for tablet subscriptions, but we also anticipate strong growth in emerging markets of Brazil and India where video content and network upgrades will drive demand for wide-area connectivity on tablets.”

The companion report, “Global Active Mobile Broadband Tablet Subscription, Service Revenue, Data Traffic Forecast: 2010-2017” provides detailed forecasts for subscriptions, average revenue per user (ARPU) and service revenues, average monthly mobile data traffic and total network traffic from tablet subscriptions, covering 38 countries as well as regional and global views.

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