The average price of mobile internet access has fallen by 17.7% over the past year, according to the latest study by ABI Research.
The market-research company regularly monitors internet prices in a range of countries and notes a sharp drop in costs to the consumer between September 2012 and September 2013.
“The decrease of data price was mainly driven by fierce competition and increased network capacity 4G roll-outs,” said Marina Lu, a research associate at ABI Research. “We estimate 38% of the lowest priced data plans worldwide are 4G tariffs compared to 21% a year ago.”
Despite falling prices, data revenues have continued to rise impressively, adds ABI Research, thanks to soaring adoption of smartphones and mobile data services.
The company predicts that data revenues will reach $400 billion this year, a 13.4% increase on last year’s figure, and grow to $527 billion in 2018, when they will account for 47% of total service revenues.
“In many markets, the access and the mobile data quota has become the principal unit of value for the customer,” said Jake Saunders, a vice president and practice director with ABI Research.
Canada’s Telus, for instance, has launched plans that allow data usage to be shared among the residents of a household but include free voice calls and texts.
The operator still managed to grow average revenue per user and service revenues in the second quarter of the year.
So-called “multi-device shared plans” represented just 6% of tariff plans in the third quarter but appear to be growing fast as a percentage of the total, while “all you can eat data” tariffs diminished in number, with operators steering customers away from those deals.
Meanwhile, “multiple tiered data tariffs”, where pricing varies according to the amount of traffic sent, remain the most commonly provided service.