Tablet connections grew 43 percent last year, according to a PwC survey

Mobile data use on the rise, but mobile voice on the decline

Average tablet connections grew nearly 43 percent year-over-year in 2012 due to higher demand for mobility from businesses and consumers, better network connectivity and higher data demand, according to a survey of United States and Canadian carriers by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The survey found that smartphone sales to post-paid customers represented 60 percent of new device sales, a 46 percent year-over-year increase. This accounted for 70 percent of post-paid upgrades, up 40 percent year-over-year.  

Prepaid services held steady at about 25 percent of total service revenues. PwC attributed the lack of growth in the prepaid subscriber base to a maturing market, mobile subscriber penetration exceeding 100 percent and rebounding recessionary consumer purchasing behaviors.

PwC said that the United States mobile market has reached a saturation point where most of the addressable market has a mobile device and service. "The maturing mobile industry is at an inflection point with price and value conscious subscribers consuming more data services requiring continuous and significant network investments from operators," observed Pierre-Alain Sur, global communications industry leader at PwC.

Mobile operators are turning to other sources of revenue, such as multi-device data plans, machine-to-machine subscriptions, and customization of service plans, Sur noted.

But while mobile data services are on the rise, mobile voice usage is on the decline, the survey found. The average voice minutes of use per postpaid subscriber decreased from 720 MOU per month in the previous survey to 673 MOU per month in 2012.

- check out the PwC survey

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