The average revenue generated by each mobile phone user (ARPU) dropped between 6% and 9% globally last year, according to a new report from ABI Research. The company's calculations compare Q3 2009 with Q3 2008.
In Europe, ARPU fell by between 5% and 8% (although Austria's ARPU shrunk by over 9%) – and in India ARPU dropped by over 10% year-on-year as new operators and the introduction of per-second billing put pressure on voice revenues. However, ABI Research estimates that ARPU decline is likely to flatten out in Europe and North America as mobile data revenue increasingly replaces falling voice revenue.
ABI Research also thinks that mobile voice usage is nearing saturation, with the total duration of calls only expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 1.4% between 2009 and 2015.
ABI analyst Bhavya Khanna said "With the decline in voice revenues, mobile operators must aim to increase the uptake of mobile internet services and revenues to defend their ARPU. Mobile data traffic has exploded in the past two years, and is expected to expand at a CAGR of over 40% from 2009 - 2015. Operators can cash in on this demand by enlarging their mobile broadband coverage, thus increasing their user base. This has started to happen in developed markets such as the UK and US, where mobile internet service revenues have grown over 12% and 8% year-on-year respectively."