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Mobile-Phone Users Warming Up To Data Services

Some 56% of survey respondents said they use the devices to access the Internet or check email at least once a month, versus 36% who said the same last year.

An increasing number of people worldwide are accessing email and other data services through their mobile phones, but many also worry about price, a study released Thursday showed.

More than half of cellular phones used today are less than a year old and have multimedia capabilities that are increasingly understood by their users, according to the study by consulting firm A.T. Kearney and the Judge Business School at Cambridge University.

Fully 56 percent of people with advanced cellular phones said they use the devices to access the Internet or check email at least once a month, a significant jump from the 36 percent who said the same last year.

In addition, nearly two-thirds of those same users said the new services and functions were easy to understand and enjoyable to use. Even among older mobile-phone users, less than half complained that new functions were difficult to use.

"The growing penetration of new multimedia phones is the catalyst for mobile data adoption," Mark Page, study leader for A.T. Kearney, said in a statement.

Price and quality of data services, however, are not in line with consumer expectations, researchers said. A third of mobile-phone users are concerned about the cost of mobile data, and about half say they are not willing to pay more than $5 per month for it.

Fully 35 percent of consumers cited poor content as the reason they don't access multimedia services, a considerable increase from just 8 percent in 2004.

The study was based on how 4,000 people in 21 countries use their phones. It was the eighth such study conducted by the two firms since 2000.

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