As mobile technologies evolve and demand increases for data usage as part of mobile smartphone contracts, mobile service providers are continuing to experiment and test different pricing strategies.
Traditionally mobile carrier pricing plans included limits on a certain amount of phone call minutes and a certain amount of texts available. When data plans for smartphone internet access were first released, almost all of them allowed users to access an unlimited amount of data for a fixed monthly fee.
As the data usage market has grown, mobile carriers have begun to create tiered data usage plans to help segment their users into different markets. In contrast to popular belief, many tiered data usage plans may actually be beneficial for consumers.
At first, these tiered data plans allowed consumers to pay a fixed monthly fee for a limited amount of data usage – allowing the consumer to choose the plan that best fits with his or her lifestyle. The problem however, is that when signing up for these mobile contracts, consumers are locked in to that contract for a specific amount of time – usually 18 months.
Increasingly however, mobile carriers are experimenting with differently structured mobile data plans that allow more flexibility for the end user.
The UK company O2 for example, offers Simplicity pricing plans that allow the user to “pay as they go” for data usage. This means that a user can simply pay for one month of data usage without having to commit to the contract for extended amounts of time.
Plans such as this may sound beneficial to the customer but not very profitable for the mobile carrier. It is important to realize however, that if more consumers choose plans such as O2’s Pay & Go plan, mobile companies that do not currently offer similar plans, may lose customers. Those companies will, in turn, be forced to offer more flexible mobile phone plans.
Although mobile technology has been around for a couple decades now, the data usage aspect of mobile technology is still new and we will continue to see the evolution of pricing plans and contractual agreements associated with mobile data usage.
It will be very interesting to follow the mobile data plan market as it adjusts to meet consumer demands while embracing the rapid technological innovation of the industry.