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Sprint Users Consume The Most Data
As Validas Highlights the Value Illusion of Metered Pricing
by Karl Bode 09:43AM Thursday Aug 18 2011 Tipped by Gbcue See Profile
According to new data from Validas, Sprint customers consume the most data, eating an average of 778 MB per month and a median of 371 MB a month. That's not particularly surprising, given that Sprint (for now) has made unlimited use the center of an ad campaign intended to differentiate the company. AT&T users are the next hungriest consuming an average of 425 MB/month, followed by Verizon (394 MB) and T-Mobile (303 MB). In another post, Validas notes that average data use was up .02% for T-Mobile, 69% for Sprint, 116% for AT&T, and 150% for Verizon.

We've noted in the past that carriers like to talk a lot about how metered billing is about "paying only for what you use" or creating "value," when in reality their implementation of it often gives the illusion of choice and often lacks value. That's done by giving users the choice of an entry level tier that is usually designed to not meet the needs of most users so they're forced to upgrade -- with the next level plan providing them with too much data at a higher price point. This isn't often discussed by analysts, so it's nice to see Validas talk about it:
quote:
Click for full size
Depending on your usage and plan, tiered pricing means that you are either paying for data you’re not using or that you are restricted to less data than you need. There is very little middle ground. At this stage in the game, it looks like most Smartphone consumers fall into the former category—where they’re paying for data they’re not using. Only four percent of Verizon Smartphone customers used more than the 2GB minimum Verizon data plan—and 50% of Verizon Smartphone users didn’t even use 100MB of data. Yet the carrier doesn’t offer lower priced tiers allowing less data than 2GB.

T-Mobile and AT&T likely have their 200MB tiers for this exact reason, but still, half of T-Mobile Smartphone users consume less than 51MB and half of AT&T Smartphone users consume less than 156MB. So, even with the lowest tier at 200MB, it’s clear that many people are paying for more data than they’re using. The good news then is that data overages (or network “throttling” for T-Mobile customers) are less prevalent. Still, the discrepancy does suggest that tiered data plans aren’t automatically the best value.
Verizon is experimenting with a new 300 MB $20 plan, which of course is designed specifically to push more users to Verizon's more expensive $30 2GB plan, as Verizon's average consumption approaches 400MB. As data use grows, the line is constantly adjusted by AT&T and Verizon to catch more and more users in a pricing funnel, driving them to costlier plans that provide more data than they need. In a more competitive market, pricing would be more about giving consumers specifically what they want -- like caps at reasonable cost set just above the average monthly usage.

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Edrick
I aspire to tell the story of a lifetime
Premium
join:2004-09-11
Woburn, MA

Idea

Offer customers amazing choices for ACTUAL good pricing that's justifiable. Why not be the company that thinks differently and helps pave the way for the future?

Holy shit you might make a crap ton more money that way by having customers who are happy and loyal!

thegeek
Premium
join:2008-02-21
right here
kudos:2

Re: Idea

won't happen. they already make a crap ton of money on customers who aren't happy and are forced to be loyal by high early termination fees.
flbas1

join:2010-02-03
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Loving Sprint. No overage charges. Unlimited data, texting. Unlimited mobile to mobile minutes. 7p-7a unlimted landline minutes.

Moropo
Premium
join:2002-07-28

Re: Idea

Same here... absolutely love Sprint

tshirt
Premium,MVM
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:4

Why are T-Mo users using so little?

and Why the lowest/slowest rate of increase?

MovieLover76

join:2009-09-11
kudos:1

Re: Why are T-Mo users using so little?

I know that streaming audio in the car is rather hard to do on tmobile due to poor coverage, my guess would be poor coverage, plus I think heavy users avoid t-mobile due to coverage concerns.

Gbcue
Premium
join:2001-09-30
Santa Rosa, CA
kudos:8

2GB Enough for you, AT&T Users?

Well, is it?

Less than a year into caps and the average (amongst the highest) is almost half of your cap.
--
My Blog 2.2

JohnInSJ
Premium
join:2003-09-22
San Jose, CA

Re: 2GB Enough for you, AT&T Users?

said by Gbcue:

Well, is it?

Less than a year into caps and the average (amongst the highest) is almost half of your cap.

Yep. Easily. I'm like the Average Sprint User.
--
My place : »www.schettino.us
MojaveMike

join:2010-11-03
Orange, CA
"Clearwire's mobile WiMAX subscribers are burning through around 7 GB of data per month, according to a company executive, and the company's business plan seems to be predicated on keeping up with that demand."

Read more: Clearwire: Mobile WiMAX subs eating 7 GB per month - FierceWireless »www.fiercewireless.com/story/cle···VPG92PYF

Not for WiMAX users apparently. Or maybe usage has decreased 90% over the last year.
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
japan
kudos:2

Silly companies upselling services

said by Karl Bode :

As data use grows, the line is constantly adjusted by AT&T and Verizon to catch more and more users in a pricing funnel, driving them to costlier plans that provide more data than they need.

What A foreign concept for a business. Upselling products/services is nothing new, and definitely not unique to the telecom industry.

Alex J

@speakeasy.net

Re: Silly companies upselling services

This comment is silly. The article doesn't say upselling is new or unique to telecom. Meanwhile, I'd love a $15 500MB plan.
sonicmerlin

join:2009-05-24
Cleveland, OH
kudos:1

Re: Silly companies upselling services

Most of openbox's comments are silly.

AT&T has the most usage?

Hasn't AT&T been using the fact that their users consume the most data as their excuse for their piss poor coverage issues for the past 3 years?

Sprint users on average consumer more than double than they do yet they seem to be able to handle the capacity just fine. It's obviously market dependant as far as your coverage but overall ATT has had some serious issues as of late(getting better now) and they've always blamed the fact that their users are smartphone data hungry customers.

Now it could be the fact that they have a higher percentage of smartphone users but overall sprint users consume almost double the data on average... which would make up for any disparity in overall number of smartphone users by percentage between the two carriers.
talz13

join:2006-03-15
Avon, OH

Re: AT&T has the most usage?

said by Readfineprnt :

Sprint users on average consumer more than double than they do yet they seem to be able to handle the capacity just fine. It's obviously market dependant as far as your coverage but overall ATT has had some serious issues as of late(getting better now) and they've always blamed the fact that their users are smartphone data hungry customers.

Yeah, I don't tend to go through a lot of data each month on Sprint since my 3g averages between 400kbps all the way up to MAYBE 1Mbps, depending on where I am.
sonicmerlin

join:2009-05-24
Cleveland, OH
kudos:1
said by Readfineprnt :

Hasn't AT&T been using the fact that their users consume the most data as their excuse for their piss poor coverage issues for the past 3 years?

Sprint users on average consumer more than double than they do yet they seem to be able to handle the capacity just fine. It's obviously market dependant as far as your coverage but overall ATT has had some serious issues as of late(getting better now) and they've always blamed the fact that their users are smartphone data hungry customers.

Now it could be the fact that they have a higher percentage of smartphone users but overall sprint users consume almost double the data on average... which would make up for any disparity in overall number of smartphone users by percentage between the two carriers.

AT&T's already admitted their network problems were the result of capex reduction, not the iPhone. The news didn't really cover it, but the executives said it in public.

axiomatic

join:2006-08-23
Tomball, TX

Look at it differently....

So basically AT&T is admitting that they are worse at network management than Sprint. Sprint allows unlimited data usage while also NOT complaining about congestion and overuse.

I hate your customer service reps Sprint, but good job on the network management. AT&T should look up to you as the company to emulate since you are clearly doing it the right way.

(yes I realize there are more AT&T customers than Sprint has but that would get in the way of me snarking my wireless provider.)
flbas1

join:2010-02-03
Fort Lauderdale, FL

Re: Look at it differently....

said by axiomatic:

(yes I realize there are more AT&T customers than Sprint has but that would get in the way of me snarking my wireless provider.)

change to Sprint.

said by axiomatic:

I hate your customer service reps Sprint, but good job on the network management. AT&T should look up to you as the company to emulate since you are clearly doing it the right way.

Sprint customer service has increased since I was last on. Check into it; and reduce some money for their merger.
iFail 5G

join:2011-08-03
said by axiomatic:

So basically AT&T is admitting that they are worse at network management than Sprint. Sprint allows unlimited data usage while also NOT complaining about congestion and overuse.

I hate your customer service reps Sprint, but good job on the network management. AT&T should look up to you as the company to emulate since you are clearly doing it the right way.

(yes I realize there are more AT&T customers than Sprint has but that would get in the way of me snarking my wireless provider.)

Name some area's where Sprint has expanded their piss poor coverage? Last time I checked, AT&T has been expanding 3G and deploying HSPA+ thats faster than Sprint's *4G* in a lot of cases.

Mr Anon

@k12.il.us

Context?

I admit I did not read the link to the report and I wonder if this data is broken down from ALL users of the carrier or just the data plan users or smart/Enchanced Smart phone users.

These numbers seem low to me,I know I use google music but even when I don't I believe I use this much in almost a week or so.
amungus
Premium
join:2004-11-26
America
Reviews:
·Cox HSI
·KCH Cable

"Average"

These "averages" are incredibly deceiving.

Many smartphone users don't even think twice about streaming music for extended periods of time, esp. if they have a dock, or use it in their car. Add in occasional video, regular checks of websites, misc. navigation, misc. app downloads, etc., and you easily hit 2GB/mo. Sprint users who have 'unlimited' seem like they like to use their data without fear of any extraneous charges, which is good.

Usage is only bound to increase over time, especially with 4G.
These data constrictions are in place for two reasons - money, and scaring people into using what they pay for in a lesser manner.

According to the "network monitor" app on my Android, I've used over 400MB this week, 1.4GB this month (so far).

thegeek
Premium
join:2008-02-21
right here
kudos:2

Re: "Average"

agree with the not thinking twice about streaming music. i just checked my usages on Verizon's website. half way through the billing cycle i'm at 900MB, my wife is at 400MB, and my daughter is at 1.6GB! i was surprised at her usage being so high, but she does stream music non stop and browse the web at the same time.
bcltoys

join:2008-07-21
Lost today

1 edit

Deleted.

Deleted.
BiggA

join:2005-11-23
EARTH

Normal usage...

is around 300-600MB/mo. Add some streaming in, you could get to 1GB.

Good for Sprint. They are selling a product that really isn't utilitarian (people love the word "unlimited" even though they don't need more than 2GB of data from AT&T or Verizon), but that's the free market.

Sprint has far fewer customers than AT&T, and, hence, no congestion. They also have way more spectrum when you include the CLEAR 4G on the 2600mhz band that's taking a good chunk of the network abuse.

DaveDude
No Fear

join:1999-09-01
New Jersey
kudos:1

so this isnt captialism

Everyone complains about capitalism . Well we dont have a competitive market. So shouldn't all the socialist be happy ?

Alex J

@speakeasy.net

Re: so this isnt captialism

What the what? Because anyone who complains about pricing is a socialist against capitalism? Sociasts love noncompetitive markets? This country's school system clearly needs a little work.

HappyAnarchy

@iauq.com
Yeah, because socialism is all about letting monolopies walk all over people for more money. That is totally what socialists like.

That said, I hate to be defending AT&T at all, ever, but it is a bit disingenious to say the average Sprint user uses double theirs so why are they not having problems? Because Sprint has significantly less users than AT&T - not saying AT&T doesn't have problems with congestion and shouldn't build out their network, or that they didn't make mistakes by doing it. I would just prefer we criticize them for valid reasons to make our points less easy to dismiss.

jmn1207
Premium
join:2000-07-19
Ashburn, VA
kudos:1

Re: so this isnt captialism

said by HappyAnarchy :

That said, I hate to be defending AT&T at all, ever, but it is a bit disingenious to say the average Sprint user uses double theirs so why are they not having problems? Because Sprint has significantly less users than AT&T - not saying AT&T doesn't have problems with congestion and shouldn't build out their network, or that they didn't make mistakes by doing it. I would just prefer we criticize them for valid reasons to make our points less easy to dismiss.

Are you suggesting that AT&T is overselling subscriptions to their wireless network? The last report that I read indicated that AT&T's network performance was equal to or better than Sprint's in most regions across the country. The issue with the much lower data usage is not due to congestion or the number of subscribers, it's the high cost of the plans combined with the steep penalties for going over the limit.

Verizon smokes Sprint in performance in most of the places I frequent, yet the average Sprint user consumed more data.

I think the point being made in the report is spot on. It's the pricing and caps that are holding people back.
elray

join:2000-12-16
Santa Monica, CA
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·EarthLink
said by DaveDude:

Everyone complains about capitalism . Well we dont have a competitive market. So shouldn't all the socialist be happy ?

You have, at a minimum, 4 major sellers of wireless data, with several minor players in many markets.

Sorry to say, but you do have competition. It may not bring you the price point you want, but it is delivering the product to market, and the price/bit has come way down from years ago.
antidelldude

join:2003-12-22
Rochester, MI

Re: so this isnt captialism

That's your piss poor definition of competition. Mine is multiple carriers with similar services, coverage, and quality. They all vary greatly carrier to carrier, market to market. Thus, competition is only existent for the ignorant that can't tell the difference, or the money conscious that don't care about the difference.

Subaru
1-3-2-4
Premium
join:2001-05-31
Greenwich, CT
kudos:1

last month..

I hit 38 GB after that I slowed down..
MojaveMike

join:2010-11-03
Orange, CA

Re: last month..

It amazes me how it appears everyone reading these threads seems to choose to ignore your post. I see this kind of usage also. I could hit 2GB in a day (hours) easily now that Netflix is on my Samsung Galaxy S.

JohnInSJ
Premium
join:2003-09-22
San Jose, CA

uh... yeah

quote:
eating an average of 778 MB per month and a median of 371 MB a month.
both of which are well under the 2GB AT&T data allowance for $25. So, in Sprint's case, 2GB is anywhere from 2.2-5X as much as the average Sprint user would need in a month.

So. Um. Yay, unlimited data!
--
My place : »www.schettino.us
tman852

join:2010-07-06
kudos:1

Re: uh... yeah

Power users can use as much as they want, typical users can use the average amount. No worries, no crazy bills. I fail to see how that's such a bad thing?

JohnInSJ
Premium
join:2003-09-22
San Jose, CA

Re: uh... yeah

said by tman852:

Power users can use as much as they want, typical users can use the average amount. No worries, no crazy bills. I fail to see how that's such a bad thing?

Because the average users give the "power users" a free ride, by subsidizing their true carry costs? Oh, wait, I forgot, there is no cost at all to providing unlimited data. I read that on a forum somewhere.
--
My place : »www.schettino.us
sonicmerlin

join:2009-05-24
Cleveland, OH
kudos:1

Better than lower priced tiers

Why doesn't *any* cell phone company let you just buy your own smartphone outright and pay for a voice plan only? Why do you also have to pay the "subsidized" price? This is illegal usury. Why is this kind of practice even allowed?
scannall3

join:2002-12-02
Denver, CO

Re: Better than lower priced tiers

said by sonicmerlin:

Why doesn't *any* cell phone company let you just buy your own smartphone outright and pay for a voice plan only? Why do you also have to pay the "subsidized" price? This is illegal usury. Why is this kind of practice even allowed?

Lots of providers do this. Virgin Mobile, Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, Walmart Straightalk, Metro PCS and a host of others.
iFail 5G

join:2011-08-03
said by sonicmerlin:

Why doesn't *any* cell phone company let you just buy your own smartphone outright and pay for a voice plan only? Why do you also have to pay the "subsidized" price? This is illegal usury. Why is this kind of practice even allowed?

T-Mobile does, if you're going to be cheap, you have to go to a cheap company. Of course Verizon and AT&T, and Sprint (who is desperate for money), will charge you for your smartphone even if you purchased it full retail.

wmcbrine
213 251 145 96

join:2002-12-30
Laurel, MD
kudos:1

When they say "creating value" ...

... I'm pretty sure they mean, for themselves. As in, charging for things that used to be free.
--
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MojaveMike

join:2010-11-03
Orange, CA

THIS from March, 2010

"Clearwire's mobile WiMAX subscribers are burning through around 7 GB of data per month, according to a company executive, and the company's business plan seems to be predicated on keeping up with that demand."

I guess usage must be going way down over time. If WiMAX is anything like Sprint (the highest usage) the average usage has gone down 90% in one year. They shouldn't need any investments in infrastructure, right? Next year people will only be using about 75MB average.

Read more: Clearwire: Mobile WiMAX subs eating 7 GB per month - FierceWireless »www.fiercewireless.com/story/cle···VPG92PYF
iFail 5G

join:2011-08-03

Re: THIS from March, 2010

said by MojaveMike:

"Clearwire's mobile WiMAX subscribers are burning through around 7 GB of data per month, according to a company executive, and the company's business plan seems to be predicated on keeping up with that demand."

I guess usage must be going way down over time. If WiMAX is anything like Sprint (the highest usage) the average usage has gone down 90% in one year. They shouldn't need any investments in infrastructure, right? Next year people will only be using about 75MB average.

Read more: Clearwire: Mobile WiMAX subs eating 7 GB per month - FierceWireless »www.fiercewireless.com/story/cle···VPG92PYF

Well one thing, Clearwire retails WhyMax as a home broadband replacement. Sprint doesn't advertise that for anything, which is why you can expect Clearwire to have a higher number of data munchers. And yea they need a lot of investment into that riddled mess of a network, like maybe expansion? Backhaul ect...
MojaveMike

join:2010-11-03
Orange, CA

Those figures are a joke.

One hour of Netflix per day on my Samsung Galaxy S uses 30GB/month. AT&T is now offering one free month of Netflix with their service. Add it up.

Matt3
All noise, no signal.
Premium
join:2003-07-20
Jamestown, NC
kudos:12

Is anyone surprised?

said by Article :
Depending on your usage and plan, tiered pricing means that you are either paying for data you’re not using or that you are restricted to less data than you need.
With plans that jump from 200MB to 2GB and offer nothing in between, is anyone surprised at this statement? Especially when the overage increment on the 200MB plans wind up costing as much (or in some cases MORE) than the next available tier?

They simply took the existing per-minute model and have swapped the word minute for the word megabyte.

koolman2
Premium
join:2002-10-01
Anchorage, AK

1 edit

1 recommendation

Re: Is anyone surprised?

And, instead of charging per megabyte, they do the equivalent of charging for an additional block of minutes instead of each additional used. I'd be okay with getting charged 8¢ or 1¢ for each additional megabyte instead of $15 for 200 or $10 for 1024. Going over my plan by five megs charges $10; it's no wonder people are careful to not go close!

edit: 200, not 250; 8¢, not 5¢

Matt3
All noise, no signal.
Premium
join:2003-07-20
Jamestown, NC
kudos:12

Re: Is anyone surprised?

said by koolman2:

And, instead of charging per megabyte, they do the equivalent of charging for an additional block of minutes instead of each additional used. I'd be okay with getting charged 5¢ or 1¢ for each additional megabyte instead of $15 for 250 or $10 for 1024. Going over my plan by five megs charges $10; it's no wonder people are careful to not go close!

Very good point. It's like using 451 minutes of your 450 minute allotment, then being billed for an additional 450 minutes, when the 900 minute plan costs less.
scannall3

join:2002-12-02
Denver, CO

Unlimited is better

I'm not sure what my data usage is to be honest. But I have the Unlimited everything plan from Boost Mobile (A Sprint company) that is $50 a month.

While this Android phone isn't as good as the iPhone it replaced, the iPhone sure wasn't worth the extra $700+ a year more it cost me to use. I'm just plain happy with my phone and unlimited data. Including tethering to my laptop when I need it.
n_w95482
Premium
join:2005-08-03
Ukiah, CA

Doing my part to increase the AT&T average

March: 2.8 GB
April: 3.3 GB
May: 5.1 GB
June: 2.7 GB
July: 1.7 GB
August: 4 GB

My billing cycle starts on the 13th; six days into this cycle I'm at 641.7 MB, with another 350 MB on top of that from today .

Oh yeah, I'm grandfathered on the old "unlimited" data tier.
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KI6RIT