No, Unlimited mobile phone Plans Won't Tank Mobile Networks

Hey, mobile carriers! Did you know those all-you-can-eat calling/Internet plans you introduced in February are going to fry your network? Didn’t think so.

And we’re not buying this one either: Unlimited-use plans “will test the limits of 3G networks,” ABI Research analyst Nadine Manjaro warns in a press release, ominously titled “Flat-Rate Price Plans Pose Serious Network Challenges for Operators.”

Manjaro’s canned statement continues: “Operators need to pay close attention to the capacity limitations of their 3G networks and the true cost of ‘all-you-can-eat’ data plans.” (The release was sent out to advertise a new, $4,400 research document.)

Well, OK. But we don’t think carriers have any new reason to panic. Why not? They’ve already been selling unlimited-access 3G data plans for years. We assume that they’ve figured out growth/usage rates by now.

And those new flat-rate bundles like Sprint’s $99 “unlimited everything” plan appeal to such a niche audience they will barely cause a blip. Most people spend half that much on mobile phone service and don’t touch any mobile data products beyond text messaging, which uses a minuscule amount of bandwidth.

Need evidence? After Verizon Wireless announced their $99 unlimited-calling plan in February, the carrier filed a note with the SEC to remind nervous investors that only 305,000 of its subscribers (0.5% of its base) have calling plans priced more than $99.99 a month.

We agree that mobile Web and video usage will gradually increase. That, of course, will require more network capacity. But we’re pretty sure the carriers know that, too, and have planned for it. (If not, there’s nothing a $4,400 ABI Research note can do to help them.)

See Also:
Verizon: $99 Unlimited mobile phone Plan Won’t Kill Us
Wireless Price War! AT&T, T-Mobile Add $100 Buffet Plan
Verizon Readies $100 Unlimited mobile phone Plan
After mobile phone Companies Cut Rates, Wall Street Cuts Ratings

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