Report: Mobile data cards increasingly more popular in home

Tue, 08/19/2008 - 8:05am
Traci Patterson

Wireless data cards, the handy tools for business travelers, are becoming a popular means of home Internet access, according to a Nielsen Mobile report.

There were more than 13 million wireless data card users in the U.S. as of Q2 2008. Recent adoption has been strong, with more than 55 percent of these devices acquired in the past year, the report found.

And 43 percent of mobile data card users reported that they most often use their data card at home, while 15 percent said they typically use the card at work. Additionally, 21 percent of data card subscribers use their card outdoors, and 9 percent use their card while commuting.

“It’s clear that data cards aren’t just for business travelers, but are an increasingly popular choice for in-home, personal Internet access, too,” said Nic Covey, director of insights at Nielsen Mobile. “Data cards aren’t just for road warriors – but also for couch and kitchen warriors.”

But mobile data card users aren’t dropping Internet access from their home Internet service providers (ISPs) – more than 99 percent of those surveyed for the Nielsen Mobile report had additional means of Internet service at home (40 percent have cable broadband and 34 percent have DSL). This could change, though. According to the report, 59 percent of mobile data card users said that they might swap their ISP for data card use exclusively.

“As carriers continue to promote mobile data cards and expand their network coverage, mobile data cards will play an increasingly important role in home Internet access,” Covey said. “Consumers don’t like to pay for the same thing twice, and so certain segments of consumers will consider these data cards as an exchangeable alternative as speeds increase. It’s the next frontier of cord cutting.”

The wireless data cards come in a variety of formats – as ExpressCard and PCMCIA cards that slide into slots on the PC or laptop (which account for 54 percent of mobile data cards), as USB cards (30 percent) and as embedded cards that come built into laptops (17 percent). As of Q2 2008, consumers reported spending an average of $65 on their data card, excluding service costs, Nielsen Mobile said.

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