Rebtel, the world’s largest mobile VoIP company after Skype, today announced findings from its Data Knowledge Survey conducted in the United Kingdom, which examined smartphone users’ understanding of their mobile data plans.
Alarmingly, despite almost 90% of those surveyed viewing data allowance as an “important” or “extremely important” consideration when choosing their mobile provider, nearly a quarter of mobile owners (23.1%) are unaware that using applications can use their data as well, while an additional 15.7% said they didn’t know if it did or not. The high percentages of these customers can lead to higher bill costs and customers caught off guard, which can result in higher customer churn for carriers as well as unnecessary overage costs for customers.
“many mobile users still lack a basic understanding of data and how it works”
“One of the key factors in the dizzying rise of the smartphone in recent years is the mainstream adoption of apps into our daily lives,” said Andreas Bernstrom, CEO of Rebtel. “Despite this, our research hints that many mobile users still lack a basic understanding of data and how it works. With the advent of 4G networks we are seeing an end to operators offering ‘all you can eat’ data packages and a return to complex and often expensive tiered access offerings. With such a large number of users unaware that apps can drain their data it does raise concern that many consumers will find themselves facing unnecessarily large mobile bills.”
In addition to the deficit of knowledge regarding apps using data, the Rebtel survey also found that over quarter of the respondents were in the dark regarding the spilt between data usage charges and usage charges for voice and messaging usage on their bills. Furthermore, almost a third of consumers thought that 1GB of data would allow them to watch ten hours of video on their phone, eight hours over the actual two hour average.
Despite the lack of understanding around data issues, consumers appear to be far more comfortable with OTT (over the top) services such as Rebtel on their devices. 41.5% of those surveyed indicated they would be “likely” or “very likely” to consider forgoing voice and messaging plans and instead sticking with data plans exclusively in the future, while using VoIP or messaging apps such as Rebtel or WhatsApp to make their voice calls and send messages.
As VoIP and messaging apps become more popular in the future — reaching one billion users by 2017 according to a recent study by Juniper Research — it’s likely the number of people using strictly data on their plans will rise, as could the efforts by some carriers to stave off the inevitable.