Accelerated growth in mobile-data consumption since unlimited-data plans


The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) today published the Telecom Monitor for the first six months of 2017. The figures show two trends:

  • Accelerated growth in mobile-data consumption because of unlimited-data plans
  • Popularity of packages combining fixed and mobile continues to grow

Accelerated growth in mobile-data consumption because of unlimited-data plans

Since the introduction of mobile plans with unlimited data (T-Mobile in January 2017 and Tele2 in May 2017), the growth in mobile-data consumption has accelerated. In the second quarter of 2017, total mobile-data consumption (3G and 4G) increased by over 25% compared with the first quarter, from 61 billion MB to over 77 billion MB. The unlimited-data plans seem to intensify competition in the mobile market. In the first six months of 2017, the market share of mobile operator KPN, based on mobile-data consumption, dropped from 40-45% to 30-35%, whereas that of rival T-Mobile increased from 20-25% to 25-30%.

Popularity of packages combining fixed and mobile continues to grow

In the first six months of 2017, the popularity of packages that combine fixed and mobile grew substantially. These are plans that combine fixed broadband services such as broadband access, television services, and/or fixed telephony with mobile services in a single package. If consumers take out such packages, they often get a discount, additional channels, or additional mobile data.

In early-2016, approximately 1 million of such fixed-and-mobile packages were taken out. By mid-2017, that number had almost doubled to 1.8 million. ACM believes that the key reason for this increase is that VodafoneZiggo also started offering fixed-and-mobile packages in the first quarter of 2017.

Impact of bundling on competition

In July 2017, following a market study, ACM came to the conclusion that there was sufficient competition on the telecom market, despite the trend of bundling telecom products in all-in-one packages. However, ACM also noted that bundling offers benefits and drawbacks to customers. Switching may become more difficult for customers if operators add more and more exclusive content to their packages.

Furthermore, bundling can have negative effects on smaller operators. The risk is that they will eventually disappear from the telecom market. For healthy competition, it is important that smaller telecom operators with competitive prices also exist. In that context, these operators often rely on regulated access to a fixed network. ACM is currently studying what regulatory regime is needed for the next few years in order to ensure that sufficient competition is maintained. This study is expected to be completed soon, followed by the publication of a draft decision.

About the Telecom Monitor

Every quarter, ACM publishes the market figures for the telecommunication sector in its Telecom Monitor. Based on data from the most important operators in the telecom industry, the Telecom Monitor gives an overview of the trends in mobile services, fixed telephony, broadband, television, business network services, and packages.