The third quarter of 2017 saw a 115% global increase in mobile data traffic, with half of this increase being generated by India and China.
Globally, the operator that carried the most data traffic was India’s Reliance Jio in the six months following the launch of its pan-Indian 4G network. However, it provided data access for virtually no fee, forcing other operators in the market to discount their data heavily and driving down profitable traffic growth.
In China, unlimited data plans prompted a 166% year-on-year surge in traffic growth for Q3 2017, with research firm Strategy Analytics noting that these tariffs had impacted positively on both service revenue and EBITDA for providers.
Strategy Analytics’ service provider group director Phil Kendall said: “It is encouraging to see more success stories from operators using unlimited or zero-rated pricing to unlock growth in both revenue and profitability. 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.”
Between Q3 2016 and the same period in 2017, the average data usage for an individual SIM card more than doubled from 0.7GB per month to 1.5GB per month. Globally, non-SMS data services now constitute 55% of total mobile service revenue.