Feature Article

October 30, 2013

About 15 Percent of Tablet Owners Buy Data Plans for Their Devices

About 29 percent of U.S. tablet owners report owning a tablet with mobile network capabilities, meaning they can sign up for and use mobile broadband as well as Wi-Fi access, a study by the Consumer Electronics Association has found.

Of those 29 percent nearly half (49 percent) indicate they actually pay for a data plan (some may have an employer pay, in addition to those reporting they pay themselves).

About 25 percent of those paying for a tablet data plan say those connections are separate from any other data plan they have.

About 23 percent of tablet owners who have mobile network capabilities and do buy mobile broadband access say they pay for a bundled data plan with their existing smartphone.

The remaining 50 percent could buy a mobile broadband connection, but do not do so.

Image via Shutterstock

Tablet ownership rates remain steady, the study indicates. Some 41 percent of online U.S. consumers indicate they own a tablet as of September 2013.

In March 2013 tablet ownership among online users was 40 percent. Tablet ownership remains highest for adults ages 25 to 34 (52 percent), while ownership rates among adults ages 35 to 44 is 48 percent.

The Consumer Electronics Association survey does not necessarily represent “unmet need.” Lots of consumers use their tablets mostly at home, where Wi-Fi is available, or at other locations (homes of friends, work, public hotspots) where Internet access is available for no incremental cost.

Some tablet users have personal hotspot features activated on their smartphones, meaning they can easily use the data connection they already have paid for. New shared data plans that allow adding a tablet to an existing plan for a small amount, such as $10 a month, will help entice some percentage of customers to add such connectivity.

But one might argue the added value of a connected tablet is fairly small for a user who has personal hotspot features activated for their smartphone.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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