What do people use their data connection for? Primarily three things: 89% go online for information such as search results, maps, weather, transit details and business ratings; 85% use it for email; and 72% use it for Web browsing.
Social networking came in a distant fourth, with 35% of people using it for that. Apart from that, no other single use — downloading apps, streaming music or videos, shopping, using cloud storage/productivity tools, etc. — cracked the 30% barrier.
Our survey also shows that online mobile gaming hasn't caught on with respondents: Only 7% said they use their smartphones to play games online.
Plans, contracts and costs
When it comes to contracts and plans, survey respondents are a family-oriented bunch, with 50% on family plans and 27% on individual plans.
The remainder are nearly evenly split between business plans (12%) and data-sharing plans that include other devices such as tablets (11%).
Long-term contracts, rather than month-to-month or pre-paid ones, still rule: 84% of respondents have long-term contracts, 12% are month to month and 4% are pre-paid.
And despite provider attempts to the contrary, unlimited data plans are still common: 56% of respondents are on unlimited plans, 40% are on tiered plans and 4% don't know.
Those numbers are deceiving, though, because Sprint and T-Mobile customers overwhelmingly are on unlimited plans, with about 96% of Sprint subscribers with unlimited plans (only 1% say they are on a tiered plan, and the other 3% don't know), and 73% of T-Mobile users on unlimited plans.
As for pricing, the results are divided into two groups: those who reported monthly costs for their data plan only, and those who said they use a voice + data bundle.
In the data-only group, slightly more than half — 51% — pay $40 or less for their monthly data service, 24% pay between $41 and $60, 11% pay between $61 and $80, 6% pay between $81 and $100, 7% pay between $101 and $150, and just 1% pay between $151 and $200 for data only.
In the voice + data bundle group, 18% pay less than $40 per month, 20% pay from $41 to $60, 15% pay from $61 to $80, $13% pay from $81 to $100, 16% pay from $101 to $150, and 9% pay from $151 to $200. At the top end of the spectrum, 9% spend more than $200 per month for a voice + data bundle.
Why people chose their mobile providers
We also asked participants on what basis they chose their carriers: price, coverage, plan options, the availability of a specific phone, or "other." We asked them to rank how important each factor was, with 1 being the most important and 5 being the least important.
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