Voice Calls and SMS are Feeling the Pinch but Mobile Carriers Fight Back

Oyster Bay, New York - 08 Jan 2013

“Western Europe’s mobile subscribers racked up 3,077 Exabytes in data traffic by the end of 2012, up 39% compared to 2011. 3G data usage contributed 64% of the total as 4G is still attempting to find its feet. 50% of Western Europe has a 3G data plan and they are making full use of it,” commented Marina Lu, research associate at ABI Research.

While mobile data usage is gathering pace, a number of other metrics are very much in retreat. In most countries around Europe, minutes of use has contracted up to 4.5% quarter-on-quarter. Similarly, text messaging was down between -0.5% and -7.8% for those countries QoQ. As ABI Research’s Mobile ARPU Market Data has shown, monthly average revenue for Western Europe continued to decline in 3Q-2012. This can be partly attributed to the economic climate but there are structural shifts in mobile end-user behavior.

Operators like Orange are responding to the threat. Orange will be launching in early 2013 a Rich Content Service, called “Joyn”. Joyn is intended to help operators go beyond outdated circuit-switched voice and SMS to embrace IP-based instant messaging, live video sharing, file transfer, and just as crucially, SNS integration. Orange has rolled-out a click-to-call function in collaboration with Facebook, called “Party Call”. This service will be available from 1Q-2013 and will allow users to call friends from within Facebook. The carrier will also be launching a VoIP and IP Messaging app called LibOn. “If you can’t beat them, then ‘Joyn’ them,” said Jake Saunders, VP – Forecasting. “Excuse the pun, but carriers do need to make sure they stay relevant to their customers in an OTT world.”

The “Mobile Data Traffic & Usage” Market Data provides an in-depth resource of traffic and end-user related metrics at a global, regional, and mobile carrier level. These findings are part of ABI Research’s Mobile Traffic Database.

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