Three Austria, DNA and Elisa are leading the way for data consumption per SIM, new data has found, with operators urged to take advantage of high customer loyalty through generous data bundles.
The research, from analysis firm Tefficient, detailed consumption from 111 operators worldwide. During 2016, Three Austria customers consumed an average of 10.9GB per month and were responsible for 64 percent of all data traffic in the country.
The operator is offering data only plans with unlimited volume but prices the plans according to what speeds a customer wants, from 20MBps up to 300MBps.
Finland’s DNA was second with 10.7GB per SIM per month in 2016, which has risen to 14.3GB in the first quarter of this year.
Fellow countryman Elisa was third with 9.2GB per SIM per month in 2016 and 11.8GB per SIM per month in the first quarter of this year.
Both DNA and Elisa also charge for unlimited bundles according to speed tiers.
Across Finland as a whole, 54 percent of SIM cards have access to unlimited data. Finns consume an average of 8.3GB per month.
Taiwanese operators Taiwan Mobile and FarEasTone were fourth and fifth, with 8.7GB and 8.2GB per month respectively.
Other data hungry operators include telcos in Latvia, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Poland and Three UK, all of whom's customers consume an average of at least 3.5GB per month.
At the other end of the scale, operators from Portgual, Greece, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Germany hold the 10 lowest monthly consumption slots.
Europe pales in comparison to Asia for total data consumption. China Mobile, with its 849 million customers, consumed 5681PB during 2016, followed by Verizon in the United States at 2986PB and China Unicom at 1608PB.
Poland's Plus had the largest total data consumption in Europe, at 514PB during 2016. Tefficient said the operator had been aggressive in pushing data-only propositions to replace fixed broadband.
In general Poland had data growth of 137 percent in 2016, the fastest in the world, building upon 115 percent growth in 2015 and 96 percent in the previous year. However, it also had the sharpest corresponding erosion in revenue at 58 percent.
The strongest performers for monthly data consumption also ranked among the industry's cheapest offerings. DNA is offering its customers the equivalent of 1GB for €1.20. Elisa is next at €1.60, followed by 3 Austria (€1.70) and Poland's Play and Taiwan Mobile (both €2.20 per GB).
The report noted the important role Three had played in driving competitiveness across Europe. In each of its European markets - Austria, Denmark, Italy, Sweden and the UK - it has the lowest revenues per GB of all of its competitors.
Tefficient said most mature markets have an ARPU of around €20 per month. It added: "An absolute majority of mobile operators are getting revenues per gigabyte that signal luxury goods, not commodity.
"We strongly believe that there’s a link between customer loyalty and high data usage. And believe that what matters to the business performance of operators – today and even more so in the future – is boiling down to one thing: Customer loyalty. We have said it before: Most mobile operators need to become more generous with data.
"That’s how you remain relevant and that’s how you will keep your customers – because they love what they can do with data.”
What is clear from the report is operators need to find new products and solutions if they want to maximise their revenues. Price pressure on data consumption shows no sign of loosening.