Do Mobile Data Plans Affect Usage? Results from a Pricing Trial with ISP Customers

  • Carlee Joe-Wong
  • Sangtae Ha
  • Soumya Sen
  • Mung Chiang
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 8995)


The growing amount of traffic in mobile data networks is causing concern for Internet service providers (ISPs), especially smaller ISPs that need to lease expensive links to Tier 1 networks. Large amounts of traffic in “peak” hours are of especial concern, since network capacity must be provisioned to accommodate these peaks. In response, many ISPs have begun trying to influence user behavior with pricing. Time-dependent pricing (TDP) can help reduce peaks, since it allows ISPs to charge higher prices during peak periods. We present results from the first TDP trial with a commercial ISP. In addition to analyzing application-specific mobile and WiFi traffic, we compare changes in user behavior due to monthly data caps and time-dependent prices. We find that monthly data caps tend to reduce usage, while TDP can increase usage as users consume more data during discounted times. Moreover, unlike data caps, TDP reduces the network’s peak-to-average usage ratio, lessening the need for network over-provisioning and increasing ISP profit.


Mobile Data Delay Tolerance Usage Change Peak Usage Usage Monitoring 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of our colleagues at the Matanuska Telephone Association. Part of the work was supported by NSF CNS-1117126.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlee Joe-Wong
    • 1
  • Sangtae Ha
    • 2
  • Soumya Sen
    • 3
  • Mung Chiang
    • 1
  1. 1.Princeton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  2. 2.University of Colorado-BoulderBoulderUSA
  3. 3.University of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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