Unlimited plans and zero-rating drive mobile data traffic spike in Q317

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Mobile data traffic growth reached a six-year high in Q3 2017, increasing 115% globally year on year, thanks in large part to unlimited data plans in Asia and zero-rating in Europe, according to Strategy Analytics.

The analyst firm’s latest Wireless Operator Performance Benchmarking database and accompanying report found that India and China accounted for half of all traffic growth globally, with Jio’s continued disruption in India, and strong growth in unlimited data plans in China driving both of those markets.

Reliance Jio was carrying more data traffic than any mobile operator globally within six months of launch, but its disruptive impact on the market has meant profitable traffic growth has been hard to find.

in China, unlimited plans accelerated traffic growth by 166% year-on-year in Q3 2017, and have generated a healthy recovery in both service revenue and EBITDA, the report said.

In Europe, Vodafone enjoyed healthy early traction for its zero-rated Passes, which attracted 8 million customers by the end of September, with a positive impact on ARPU and usage. It has delivered 2.6x growth in traffic in Europe over the last two years with near-flat opex.

“It is encouraging to see more success stories from operators using unlimited or zero-rated pricing to unlock growth in both revenue and profitability,” said Phil Kendall, report author and director of Strategy Analytics’ Service Provider Group. “The success of China Unicom’s unlimited plans and collaborations with local Internet giants highlights the importance of partnering with content providers to add value to data plans.”

Susan Welsh de Grimaldo, director of Service Provider Strategies, added: “Operators need to evaluate both their market environment and customer segment priorities when contemplating unlimited plan options. We applaud Vodafone’s strategy to focus on more targeted and segmented market offers in Europe, addressing discrete demand for messaging, music and video services within those segments.”

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