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CCS Insight: UK mobile data usage will grow sevenfold by 2021

Manny Pham
November 16, 2017

The average mobile subscriber uses 2.5GB of data per month but is predicted to grow to 18GB by 2021

Mobile data consumption in the UK will increase sevenfold from 2.5GB per month to 18GB on average by 2021, according to a new report.

This is according to CCS Insight in a report released November 8. The analyst firm called for some operators to make mroe attractive offers to satisfy the upcoming demand for data.

Offers such as unlimited data plans, a move only Three has enacted. According to CCS Insight, Three subscribers consume on average 7GB per month which is three and a half times more than rival networks.

Advances in mobile phone technology such as high-definition content, 360 degree video and virtual and augmented reality, alongside the onset of 5G, point towards strong data demands.

Finland has adopted unlimited data plans across all networks, offering customers contracts tiered by speed. Finnish operator DNA reported customers used 16.5 GB per month on average in Q3 of this year.

Rise of zero-rating

In 2018 operators began offering zero-rated content, specific apps consumed little to no data. For example Three offered its ‘go binge’ incentive where customers can use Netflix, Deezer and Soundcloud with no data being consumed.

EE, Vodafone and Virgin Mobile also offer zero-rated content. CCS said the launch of zero-rating “aims to enable “worry-free” usage while driving incremental spend.”

The 5G effect

According to CCS Insight forecasts, 5G will not see high uptake until 2022 by which time total subscribers will reach 17 million. By end-2025, more than half of all mobile connections in the UK will be on a 5G network.

CCS said in the report: “Yet eye-watering growth in mobile data consumption is far from guaranteed. CCS Insight recognises an alternative scenario in which operators limit demand, either through preference or necessity.

“Uncertainty remains over the much-delayed auction of 4G and 5G spectrum, originally slated for early 2016. And while operators grapple to make “more-for-more” a reality, they could be tempted to use price to temper demand. In our alternative scenario, data usage could remain as low as just 6 GB per month.”

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