Look What 2012 has in Store for Operators and Customers

December 29, 2011, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

Well, this is interesting; Sandvine’s top 5 projections for the New Year on how consumers use their mobile and wireline broadband connections have been released.

It goes through many of the major trends in the usage of mobile devices today. And some of them come across as a pretty big surprise.

Sandvine predicts that pooled plans will become much more popular; of course Verizon Wireless has confirmed it will launch its first family data plan next year. This would be the critical first step to luring tablet and other emerging device users onto mobile broadband, according the company.

That being said, Sandvine also predicts that 95 percent of tablet traffic will be on fixed access networks. Surprising, because tablets are mobile computing devices!

But it should be said that new WiFi only tablets like the Kindle Fire got the consumers less interested in the mobile half of the mobile broadband. Why? Sandvine thinks it is because of the lack of pooled data options; Consumers simply don’t want to buy separate plans from their tablets and smartphones.

If you think the emergence of the pooled plans would reverse the trend, Sandvine disagrees. They say even though consumers will buy more 3G and 4G tablets to connect to their operator’s network, they would still prefer WiFi over the expensive mobile broadband.

Coming to expense, Sandvine says the usage based billing models and the ability of tablets to suck down an enormous amount of bandwidth, will increase the chances of customers complaining to their operators about sky high bill.

But the customers are smart, and they always get help in one form or the other. For instance, when it comes to texting and the high costs of texting, WhatsApp, GroupMe and Beluga, and also the proprietary platform texting systems iMessage and BlackBerry Messenger come to the aid of users.

A study of IP messaging trends in Asia-Pacific markets shows that 8 percent of consumers in that region are using WhatsApp to bypass operator SMS fees.

Well, people learn to survive, leaving a significant effect on the carrier’s revenue.

Video will obviously be a super hot platform next year, as it penetrates beyond the broadcast airwaves and cable boxes to Internet-connected TVs, game consoles, smartphones and tablets.

That too will be hard on the operators, who are not really at their best in video streaming – yet.

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