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Data Usage Chart from Validas  (Source: Consumer Reports)
Biggest iPhone users use over 1GB monthly

Apple struck a chord with competitors and consumers alike when it launched the first iPhone. The device wasn't perfect, but it sold in droves and each successive version of the iPhone has sold exceptionally well. The device is one of the most popular smartphones on the American market, despite only having one carrier.

The popularity of the iPhone and the tendency of customers to actually use the smartphone for its intended purpose means that owners tend to consumer more data bandwidth than users of other devices. In fact, AT&T has threatened in the past to charge iPhone users who consume more data than it thinks they should more money, despite the fact that iPhone data plans are said to be unlimited.

AT&T may blame the huge number of iPhones that it sells for its data woes, but the company recognizes how important the iPhone is to its bottom line. The company has pledged to improve its network and in Q1 Apple reported sales of the iPhone doubled so the number of iPhones on the AT&T network will only increase.

Consumer Reports has published the results of research that it commissioned from a company called Validas. Validas is a web firm that analyses the bills of wireless users that the customers willingly upload and the data is used for research when the providers won’t give first party numbers.

According to the data Validas provided 
Consumer Reports, the average iPhone user consumes 273MB of data per month. By comparison, the average Blackberry user only consumes 54MB of data each month. Users of other smartphones consume an average of 150MB per month. The data also showed that 12% of iPhone users gobble up 500MB per month of bandwidth and the biggest consumers of bandwidth using the iPhone use over 1GB of data per month.

Consumer Reports reached out to AT&T for first-party numbers and were turned down. An AT&T spokesperson said, "For competitive reasons, we do not disclose the usage of our iPhone customers."

The data analyzed by Validas included 757 iPhone users, 783 Blackberry users, and in total looked at 14,000 wireless users.



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Oi
By Inkjammer on 2/11/2010 10:23:47 AM , Rating: 5
It's a sad day in Hell when 273MB of data per user over the course of a month is all it takes it take down a network.




RE: Oi
By StraightCashHomey on 2/11/2010 10:25:00 AM , Rating: 2
Heh, yeah that's what I was thinking. I can occasionally get up to 273MB per day without even trying on my desktop. I watch a lot of youtube videos.

Granted, that's the average, so there are some users that are downloading far more and some users that are downloading far less... but still, AT&T is bitching about that?


RE: Oi
By Screwballl on 2/11/2010 9:41:59 PM , Rating: 2
I just checked my DD-WRT data stats and I average around 1GB per day, and some days over 3GB (yes bytes, not bits) but I also work from home using VoIP and various other online/server connections.


RE: Oi
By reader1 on 2/11/10, Rating: -1
RE: Oi
By StraightCashHomey on 2/11/2010 10:34:14 AM , Rating: 2
That's on AT&T, not the customers.


RE: Oi
By Adonlude on 2/11/2010 4:31:38 PM , Rating: 5
Well the customers obviously didn't look close enough at the small print:

AT&T Unlimited Data Plan**

**Note: AT&T reserves the right to take-backs and erasies.


RE: Oi
By seamonkey79 on 2/11/2010 2:45:18 PM , Rating: 2
As I recall, the iPhone failed to meet initial estimates and sold under what they were saying it would for the first few months, so, bologna that nobody expected it to be this popular. The fact that AT&T didn't realize how much people would actually use their unlimited plans has little to nothing to do with the iPhone, it just shows the fact that their network is under par in stark relief.


RE: Oi
By eheia on 2/11/10, Rating: 0
RE: Oi
By inighthawki on 2/11/2010 10:42:20 AM , Rating: 3
When you multiply that by the millions of iphone users, you're in the thousands of terabytes per month, or several hundred terabytes per day, on a wireless connection. Not bad at all in my book... Then add in all the non-iphone users and I'm sure that number gets a lot bigger.


RE: Oi
By StraightCashHomey on 2/11/2010 11:07:50 AM , Rating: 5
Solution: Don't call your plan Unlimited if you cannot back it up.


RE: Oi
By ImSpartacus on 2/11/2010 2:11:44 PM , Rating: 3
Amen. I've never understood the logic in questioning internet usage for an "unlimited" data plan.

The same principle comes into play with tethering. You're already paying for the data, why does "The Man" get to tell you that you cannot use that data on your laptop?


RE: Oi
By omnicronx on 2/11/2010 4:19:54 PM , Rating: 2
Its not really about being unlimited, its about not upgrading your network and adding more towers where they are needed.

If you happen to live in an area with towers that have little use, you should not have any problems. This is why some users report no problems and others report tons of problems and dropped calls.

This is why densely populated areas like New York are having problems, too many people accessing a particular tower at once causes the system to overload.

By nature a UTMS cell tower can only handle a certain amount of users, there is nothing AT&T can do to get around this. The only thing they can do is add more towers to alleviate the problem, or wait until the next gen service rolls out that supports more users/bandwidth per tower. Making matters worse, you can only have so many towers within a certain area, i.e they have to be spread out, you can't just put two towers beside each other and think it will double your throughput.

LTE will definately help out AT&T, but eventually they will be in the same position. With a faster connection comes more use of that connection.


RE: Oi
By corduroygt on 2/11/2010 12:45:06 PM , Rating: 3
When you multiply the $80 minimum phone bill by the millions of iphone users you get revenue close to 1 BILLION DOLLARS per month.


RE: Oi
By Hiawa23 on 2/11/2010 10:58:06 AM , Rating: 3
sounds like they want to charge you more...


RE: Oi
By omnicronx on 2/11/2010 11:20:43 AM , Rating: 2
You are thinking of a cellphone network in linear terms. Each tower has a certain amount of bandwidth. The entire network does not go down, but merely one slice when a tower(s) in a particular area become overloaded.

I'm not saying its an excuse, but you can't look at monthly usage and make such a claim. If a bunch of 50M monthly users happen to be using their connection at the same time in the same area, the tower may max out, the amount of monthly bandwidth is completely irrelevant.


RE: Oi
By Oregonian2 on 2/11/2010 1:16:37 PM , Rating: 2
Also, a cellphone tower typically doesn't use consumer-grade data connections with "best effort" data transfer. They've commercial grade connections with guaranteed performance and typically consist of multiple T1 lines (T3's usually is too much bandwidth for a single cell site). This also provides some backup in case single T1 lines go down.


RE: Oi
By HrilL on 2/12/2010 2:33:30 PM , Rating: 2
The average cell tower has 1-3 T1 lines from what I've read. Now they say you can get 3.5Mb/s max and in some areas are claiming 7.2Mb/s If a cell tower has only 1 T1 that is only 1.5Mb/s that has to handle all the voice traffic and the data. even 3 T1 lines is not enough. 4.5Mb/s for both voice and data won't support 7.2Mb/s At&t needs to upgrade back haul capacity before they upgrade to faster speeds. A faster connection to the tower isn't going to be faster when the connection to the CO isn't upgraded.


RE: Oi
By invidious on 2/11/2010 2:04:40 PM , Rating: 2
Who said it ever took down the network? I dont recall any interuptions in my service.

It would also be a sad day if making nonsense posts on the internet caused the world to end, but again, that didnt happen either.


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