Wireless Carriers Squeezing More From Data Users

Subscribers who bought a data package paid on average nearly 5% more in the second quarter than the first.

The major wireless carriers got more money from mobile-phone subscribers in the second quarter, a usage-tracking firm said Tuesday.

Subscribers who bought a data package paid on average nearly 5 percent more in the second quarter to $7.86 a month from $7.51 a month in the first quarter, Telephia Inc. said. A wireless data package includes bulk pricing on text messaging, emailing pictures and Web access.

Among the top five carriers, 1 in 5 customers subscribed to data services, the San Francisco research firm said. Among the various age groups, the penetration rate was highest among young adults between 18 and 24, with 45 percent subscribing to data packages.

Penetration numbers decreased as people got older. For people from 25 to 36 the rate was 32 percent; 37 to 55, 21 percent; and 56 and older, 12 percent.

"With penetration among young people being so high, it indicates there's a lot of demand for data," Tamara Gaffney, product director for Telephia, said. "This speaks well for the future."

To widen adoption, carriers are testing a variety of data packages in order to find the right price for more people, Gaffney said.

In gathering its numbers, Telephia tracked subscriber usage at Cingular, Nextel Communications, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile. Since then, Nextel and Sprint have merged.

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