Recently I can by some interesting data on monthly voice and SMS usage in Denmark. But first let me set the stage. It's well known that people are price sensitive ― as per minute prices fall, telephony usage goes up. It's also true that people prefer flat rate pricing as it reduces their mental transaction costs. This graph (from Andrew Odlyzko) shows what happened to mobile minutes of use when flat rates were introduced in the US.
AT&T launched their Digital One-Rate plan in 1998 offering a block of minutes for one monthly fee with no long distance or roaming complications. This plan was so popular that all operators were forced to respond, with the results visible in the graph above.
Today US mobile voice usage is approaching 800 minutes per month and that's average. Leap Wireless and MetroPCS subscribers use 1500-2000 minutes per month. One wonders how much time people can spend on the phone...
So here's the new (to me) data from Denmark.
The Danish regulator has a wonderful set of statistics available in half-year increments. Those above are from 2H02 thru 2H07. Voice minutes are out-going traffic in millions of minutes per period (6 months). The population of Denmark is 5.5 million (82% are over the age of 14) so this represents ~330 voice minutes and ~225 messages per person per month.
Wireless minutes of use continue to rise, but fixed line minutes are falling faster so total voice minutes are falling. But total person-to-person communications is still increasing because SMS and E-Mail usage has soared, growing to roughly 40% of all communications.
This is very interesting as flat rate pricing for monthly bundles of SMS messages was introduced in Denmark in 2002. Meanwhile, Danish mobile voice calls are mostly charged per minute (very typical in Europe) and are expensive compared to the US.
So price matters, but flat rate monthly bundles (rather than per minute or per message charges) is even more important in driving usage.