The development of data transfer services in the mobile network 2014

Published 13.05.2015

The volume of data transferred in mobile networks has increased exponentially in recent years. The rapid growth in data transfer services in the mobile network in recent years is explained, among others, by the improved availability and quality of data transfer services.

More and more mobile subscriptions have an unlimited data transfer service

At the end of 2014, some 7.0 million mobile subscriptions were accompanied by a data transfer service subject to a monthly charge. In addition, roughly 490,000 subscriptions had a data transfer service invoiced through other means.

The number of monthly charged data transfer subscriptions increased by 15 per cent from the year before, whereas the number of differently invoiced data transfer subscriptions fell by 12 per cent. In 2013, the number of monthly charged data transfer subscriptions increased by one-third from 2012, meaning that growth decelerated in 2014. In 2013, some operators attached a monthly invoiced data package to all of their mobile subscriptions, which explains that year's rapid growth in data transfer subscriptions.

Mobile subscription productisation is heading in a direction where nearly every subscription includes a monthly charged data transfer service. At the end of 2014, some 75 per cent of all mobile subscriptions had a data transfer agreement with a monthly charge.

Monthly charged data transfer subscriptions can be divided into unlimited and limited subscriptions. Unlimited subscriptions do not have any predefined upper limit for the use of data. Instead, limited subscriptions have such a limit and, after it has been reached, the use of the service may, depending on the agreement, become slower or subject to an extra charge.

Of all monthly charged data transfer subscriptions, 59 per cent were unlimited and 41 per cent were limited at the end of 2014. The number of unlimited subscriptions increased by 22 per cent, and that of limited subscriptions grew by 5 per cent from the previous year. As a result, the number of unlimited subscriptions increased at a much faster rate than that of limited subscriptions. Some 71 per cent of subscriptions used by private customers were unlimited, whereas 79 per cent of subscriptions used by corporate customers were limited.


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Figure: Mobile subscriptions based on a data transfer agreement in 2011–2014.

Ever faster data transfers sped up the increase in mobile data

At the end of 2014, some 54 per cent of all monthly charged data transfer subscriptions had a nominal connection speed of 10–30 Mbps. In 28 per cent of all subscriptions, the connection speed was less than 2 Mbps. Correspondingly, only 4 per cent of data transfer subscriptions had a connection speed of more than 100 Mbps.

The volume of data transferred in mobile networks has increased exponentially in recent years. The volume of data transferred in 2014 was 325,000 TB , being 82 per cent more than in the previous year. Compared to 2007, the volume of data transferred is 620 times higher. Last year, an average Finn transferred 163 MB of mobile data per day, while the corresponding figure in 2013 was 90 MB.

The rapid growth in data transfer services in the mobile network in recent years is explained, among others, by the improved availability and quality of data transfer services. In particular, LTE networks enable faster mobile data transfer services than previous network technologies. The coverage of LTE networks of national mobile network operators extends to the majority of the population. What is more, the increased use of data transfer services is explained by the development and popularity of smartphones and tablets, as well as their downloadable applications.



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Figure: The development of the volume of data transferred in the mobile network in 2007–2014.

The number of mobile subscriptions intended for data transfers only is increasing

Some mobile subscriptions are used on tablets and laptops for data transfers only, without using any voice or messaging services. At the end of 2014, there were 1.8 million of such dedicated data transfers subscriptions, i.e. 19 per cent of all mobile subscriptions.

In addition to people communicating with one another, the mobile communications network is used to establish a network connection between different devices, computers and systems, and to transfer data. Such device subscriptions are referred to as M2M subscriptions (Machine to Machine), and they can be applied to remotely read electricity meters, remotely controlled vehicles or industrial processes monitoring. At the end of 2014, there were 990,000 M2M subscriptions in Finland. This figure is expected to increase through the development of M2M technologies.

This article is a part of FICORA's Communications Sector Review 2014 (1/2015).

Key words: Internet , Telephone , Mobile broadband , Mobile phone , Subscription , Articles , Reviews , Statistics

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