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What do mobile broadband consumers want? Ericsson research explains

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As networks continue to evolve and consumer tastes mature, it is important for mobile operators to understand mobile broadband user’s expectations. Latest research shows it is important to go beyond “one-size-fits-all” offerings to meet consumer expectations, says Ericsson Marketing Manager Andres Torres.

So much has changed in the way we communicate and interact with people and technology since the first data-enabled smartphones were released about 10 years ago. Data consumption has been increasing exponentially every year and projections predict that by 2023 the average smartphone user will be consuming 17 gigabytes per month, according to the Ericsson Mobility Report. Video has been the main driver behind traffic growth and will continue to be, accounting for 75 percent of total traffic over the next few years.

Ericsson ConsumerLab asked more than 14,000 consumers in 14 about what their expectations are for the coming years when it comes to mobile broadband. The findings of the survey, which represents the needs of the 800 million smartphone users globally, can be summarized in six telling consumer expectations:


1. Provide us with an effortless buying experience

Consumers want to see their buying experience simplified and require a better understanding of what they are getting into when they buy a mobile data plan. A big disconnect between what a user buys and what that user eventually uses highlights an issue in this area. Data consumed by mobile advertising is often the culprit when consumers end-up using more data than expected.

2. Offer us a sense of unlimited

It is not just about unlimited data buckets. For consumers, the peace of mind of knowing they won’t exceed their monthly allowance is important - but even more so is to be reassured they can use that extra data when they need it. As speed limitations are often implemented on “unlimited” data plans, operators need to remember that there is also a fine balance for customer satisfaction.

3. Treat gigabytes as currency

Consumers want to treat unused gigabytes as they would do their extra money. Consumers globally are not too happy about paying for data that they didn’t use and that, in their eyes, will eventually go to waste. On average, smartphone users with capped data plans are left with 40 percent of their data allowance unused by the end of the month and they would like to use it, gift it or “invest” it.

4. Offer us more than just data buckets

Despite the recent trend of waiving data usage for certain apps or services (zero-rating) and unlimited plan wars across countries, consumer preferences still call for individualisation, and choosing the products and services they want most at the time and location they need most. There is still room for market segmentation and ensuring that end-users can have access to targeted offerings that best suit their individual needs.

5. Interest in 5G

5G is not here just yet but there is interest in this new format. Ericsson’s research has found that the idea of 5G appeals to 76 percent of smartphone users globally and that together with the technical improvements and breakthroughs expected from 5G, there is also an expectation on new paradigms in the operator-customer relationship such as paying a single fee for each 5G service or device attached to a 5G network as opposed to the data plans of today.

6. Network quality is imperative

Consumers want to be with the best available network and therefore, it is important for operators to ensure that not only is the network good, but also that the perception of “a good network” is delivered to customers. This can’t be just in advertisements though, real everyday experience with mobile operator networks builds consumer perceptions and expectations and Net Promoter Score still counts.

We have come a long way since true mobile broadband was delivered by 4G and as new products and services are enabled, and consumer tastes evolve, the more important it is to uncover potentially unmet consumer needs that can be fulfilled by operators. From offering an effortless buying experience to focusing on real network performance, consumers are demanding changes they would like to see realised today.

You can read the Ericsson report on the “Six calls to action from consumers for operators to rethink mobile broadband” here.

Andres Torres
The Author Andres Torres

Andres is a Marketing Manager based in Melbourne and has more than 17 years of experience in the ICT industry from strategic marketing to technical customer support. Having worked with the Ericsson services organisation for several years, Andres has participated in numerous telecommunications projects in four continents, adding unique experiences to his technical, customer and cultural backgrounds.

See all of Andres Torres's posts

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