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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 May, 2004, 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK
Monthly spend on mobiles rises
Woman using a camera phone
Camera phone users are spending even more money
People are spending more on their mobiles than they are on their gas and electricity bills.

Customers are paying up to 45 a month for voice, text and other phone services, according to a survey by market research firm JD Power and Associates.

It represents an increase of 14% compared to 2003 figures.

Those with camera phones are spending even more, racking up bills of 54 a month.

"There are not many industries growing by 14% per annum," said Gunda Lapski, director of European telecommunications and utilities services at JD Power and Associates.

Burgeoning market

"It is quite amazing really that people are spending more on their mobile than on gas or electricity bills," she said.

Prepaid customers spend less than those on pay monthly contracts, with an average monthly spend of 24.27, compared to the 44.18 bill paid by contract customers.

Pre-paid camera phone owners are spending more - 44 a month - and contract customers with picture phones can spend as much as 54.

It will be music to the ears of phone operators keen to expand this burgeoning market.

Nearly one in five consumers owns a camera phone with 26% expressing an interest in owning one.

SURVEY RESULTS
Average monthly spend rises by 14% since 2003
53% of contract customers use mobile as main method of communication
18% own a camera phone
23% wish to own a videophone
17% download ringtones
11% download news or sports information
4% send e-mail via mobile
Source: J.D. Power and Associates
Camera phone users are taking an average of 20 pictures a month with their mobiles but it is not necessarily the cost of sending them that is increasing their bills.

"We don't know if they are sending these pictures or not but they are using their phones more for a variety of things such as downloading ringtones, news and sports," said Ms Lapski.

Mobile versus fixed line

Downloading ringtones is increasing in popularity with 17% of interviewees using the service. 11% had accessed news, weather or sports information on their mobiles.

But only 7% had downloaded games.

Sending e-mail via a mobile is also still a low priority for most though, with just 4% using this service.

The annual study, which is based on over 2,000 telephone interviews with customers, is good news for providers looking to increase their existing voice revenues.

Nearly 10% of money being spent on mobile services is now on services other than voice or text.

Mobile phones are also giving traditional fixed line phones a run for their money.

Over half (53%) of those on monthly contracts were using their mobile in favour of a landline.

Spend, spend, spend

Pre-paid customers were less likely to use their mobile as their main method of communication with only 29% preferring it to a landline phone.

The more sophisticated the camera, the more money people are prepared to spend on the services it provides, said Ms Lapski.

23% of people are keen to buy a videophone and she is confident 3G services - which offer applications other than voice - will pick up once consumers understand more about the technology and what it can offer.

There will be a limit to how much people are prepared to pay, but it will be dictated by the services on offer and how easy they are to use, thinks Ms Lapski.


SEE ALSO:
Vodafone cuts bottom-line losses
25 May 04  |  Business
Do land lines face being cut off?
24 May 04  |  Technology
Communication overload?
20 May 04  |  Magazine
BT forges Vodafone mobile tie-up
18 May 04  |  Business
Purge on mobile phone use in cars
17 May 04  |  Scotland


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