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Survey: 48% of consumers would drop data plans if cash was tight

Almost half, or 48 percent, of consumers said they would drop their mobile data plans completely if they faced financial hardship, according to a new survey.In a poll of more than 1,000 consumers by Strategy Analytics, just 17 percent they would move to a cheaper data plan.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor on

Almost half, or 48 percent, of consumers said they would drop their mobile data plans completely if they faced financial hardship, according to a new survey.

In a poll of more than 1,000 consumers by Strategy Analytics, just 17 percent they would move to a cheaper data plan. Meanwhile, only 19 percent said they would give up mobile voice service completely (28 percent said they would just scale back).

It seems obvious, but these figures indicate that customers are indeed aware of how pricey data plans are -- and how much they consider them relatively frivolous.

According to eMarketer, in the past 12 months, 22 percent of U.S. adults have cut back on their mobile service to save money, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Statistics like that means mobile carriers such as AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint Nextel are worried: often, carriers subsidize expensive hardware only to make up the difference in lucrative revolving data plans. If consumers are dropping data -- or worse, opting not to upgrade altogether -- that means carriers' cash cow takes a hit, and phones remain on store shelves.

The other popular way to access the Internet, broadband Internet access, is a different story.

Far more rooted in consumers' lives, only 10 percent of consumers said they would drop broadband access altogether, and just 21 percent said they would cut back on the service -- perhaps indicating that consumers are not willing to give up personal Internet access altogether, and if they are, it won't be a phone that offers primary access.

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