Feature Article

July 08, 2013

Mobile Data Usage to See Big Gains by 2018

A new report from ABI Research offers up some unexpected news about the state of the mobile data consumption market. The specifics bring along quite a few surprises, and one of the biggest is about where growth in the mobile data consumption market will emerge in the near future.

The ABI Research report showed that there are only three regions that will realize an increase in mobile service revenue greater than nine percent in the period between 2013 and 2018. Those three regions looking at a double-digit return include the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa. According to the reports, the rise in revenue will be underscored by an accompanying rise in data consumption, with data traffic in those regions set to more than double every two years.

The report further elaborated that there will be significant growth in all three regions, though there will also be differences among the group. For instance, in 2018, both the Middle East and Latin America regions are expected to see average users going through over 2.5 gigabytes of traffic every month. But Africa will be the only region to see regular positive revenue growth over the period. While Africa has the lower messaging volume of the group, owing largely to the low literacy rates, the growth of mobile subscriptions and a variety of new over-the-top applications are pushing the growth rate in Africa right along.

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However, as explained by ABI Research research associate Ying Kang Tan, there's potential for all of this to go awry, thanks to differences in regulatory policies in the areas in question. Tan describes it further in his remarks: “For instance, the recent implementation of mobile number portability measure in Nigeria and the reduction in mobile termination rate in Honduras and Jamaica will go a long way in shaping the competitive landscape and encourage cellular usage.”

What's more, as also explained by ABI Research's VP and practice director Jake Saunders, the growth rate doesn't necessarily mean large increases in profitability. Saunders expounded, “Operators in the regions need to be prepared to respond to new competition policies. For example, a slash in termination rates means consumers have fewer reasons to subscribe to different operators concurrently. The battle to gain market share will be even more intense.”

Indeed, a market that's seeing growth will commonly draw competitors, each eager for a slice of a rapidly expanding market. Though there are measures that can be taken to head off competition, especially in the form of planning ahead and offering a great deal up front so that customers are enticed and then keeping customers in place with excellent service, this can only go so far, especially if much better deals are offered. Getting a set of entrenched customers will go a long way, though, even if there's still a need for heightened vigilance in the face of growing competition.

The mobile data market in general has proven to be a major one for several reasons, and the growth of that market in these regions is a largely inevitable progression of the growth of mobile device markets. There's a lot to watch in this field, and from the look of things, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America are going to be the next three fields to focus on.


Edited by Rachel Ramsey


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