SANTA CLARA, CA: The majority of American mobile subscribers, especially younger users, have concerns about exceeding their monthly data limits, but they would engage more often with content providers if they were offered sponsored data plans, a new study has revealed.

Based on a survey of 1,000 US smartphone and tablet owners aged 18 and over, which was conducted in January by Wakefield Research on behalf of Citrix, the IT networking provider, the report found 82% of respondents feared the impact of mobile apps on their monthly data quota and avoided using an app as a result.

Adults with children were more likely to exceed their monthly data limit, the report said, with 72% saying this happened to them compared to just 46% of childless adults, while 66% of iPhone subscribers expressed concern compared with 48% of Android smartphone users.

Just over two-thirds (67%) of those who watch at least one mobile video a month said they exceeded their data limit, but this fell to 36% for those who watch less than that, the study also noted.

However, US smart device users remain receptive to sponsored data plans and the majority said they would use more data if provided with the option. A full 78% of millennial respondents said they would be open to such plans compared to just over half (52%) of the baby boomer generation.

Sponsored data allows subscribers to check new apps and features without deducting from their monthly data limits and can also be used for promotions and customer loyalty initiatives.

In terms of content usage, the study found 39% of subscribers said they would access information about their bank accounts, 33% would watch educational videos, 28% said they would watch ads, 21% would use the data allowance to hold a teleconference while 18% would file an insurance claim.

These tasks were more likely to be carried out by adults with children – 77% of parents said they would do so if data usage was sponsored compared with 58% of non-parents.

"Sponsored data plans are likely to be a growing source of revenue for mobile operators," concluded Chris Koopmans, vp of service provider platforms at Citrix. "[They] are one way in which content providers can engage with their target audience."

Data sourced from Citrix; additional content by Warc staff