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Arieso and Ericsson say it's due to increased use of smartphones instead of feature phones as well as the rise of mobile devices like tablets

A mobile advisory company recently found that the top 1 percent of heavy users are bandwidth hogs, accounting for half of the world's mobile traffic.

Arieso, a Newbury, England-based provider of mobile network management software solutions, conducted a study back in November 2011 that followed 1.1 million mobile customers of a certain European operator.

After following these customers over a 24-hour time period, Arieso found that 1 percent of consumers generated half of all traffic while the top 10 percent generated about 90 percent of wireless bandwidth traffic. Sixty-four percent of heavy users accessed wireless bandwidth via laptop, 33 percent via smartphone and only 3 percent via an iPad.

Also, in 2009, the top three users consumed 40 percent of wireless bandwidth. Now Arieso reports that this number has jumped to 70 percent.

"Some people may draw the parallel to Occupy Wall Street, and I've already heard comments about 'Occupy the Downlink,'" said Michael Flanagan, chief technology officer at Arieso. "But the situations are very different, and the mobile situation doesn't break down along socioeconomic lines."

The European operator that took part in Arieso's study, which chose to remain anonymous, said that it was forced to install 250 microcells last year to support traffic of heavy consumers.

Not surprisingly, increased use is largely due to the rise of smartphones (and the replacement of feature phones) and other mobile electronics like tablets. According to a survey conducted by mobile network equipment maker Ericsson, about 13.2 percent of the 6.1 billion cell phones in this world are smartphones. More than 30 percent are smartphones in markets like Britain, Germany and the United States.

Ericsson's survey found that 40 percent of smartphone users would access mobile broadband connections before even getting out of bed last year, and now, the company expects global mobile data use to increase tenfold from 2011 to 2016.

The heaviest of mobile broadband hogs, however, are those that consume videos and surf the Web. According to Ericsson, extreme users watched videos 40 percent of the time, searched the Web 20 percent of the time, and the rest of the time was dedicated to social networking, e-mail, and software downloads.

Other possible reasons for increased mobile bandwidth usage are assistants like Apple's Siri, which is a digital assistant that helps users enter text and data faster. According to Arieso, users with the Apple 4S, which is the smartphone that Siri debuted on, downloaded 276 percent more data than Apple 3G users did.

Source: The New York Times

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RE: A distraction
By tng on 1/7/2012 9:40:28 AM , Rating: 1
...the highest cost users are in low population density areas. Just providing coverage is a big expense with little revenue from the few users actually using it.

So a bunch of farmers who are looking at the weather report for their area in the morning are using more data than thousands of people on trains going to work watching video and surfing during the ride?

Coverage in rural areas is a one time thing I have found. Yes they install a tower (finally) and you can make calls, but there are no upgrades after that and when the tower goes down for some reason, it is days (or weeks in one case) before someone is there to look at it. It is hard enough to get Verizon or AT&T to provide rural coverage, not to mention upgrade it.

The money is in metro areas and the burbs, not rural areas where there is little use anyway. Spoken like someone who has never left the city. By the way, most of the time when I go back to my home town, I can't get cell coverage of any kind, yet there is DSL from a local ISP. Smartphones are almost worthless for net surfing within 20 miles to the West and 200 miles to the East since there is no reliable 3G coverage.

RE: A distraction
By RealTheXev on 1/8/2012 12:47:42 PM , Rating: 2
I am more then willing to pay for my bandwidth usage. I live in the middle-of-nowhere Northwest PA. I am with Verzion wireless only for the 3G coverage(they are the only ones that cover it with 3G period!). Even then, I hardly ever get 3G service.

I use upwards of 2GBs of bandwidth a month. I doubt I am robbing many others of that bandwidth since many do not use data in this area (and those that do are stuck in Sprint's crappy 1X or AT&T's Edge), but I am forced to use so much bandwidth because I have NO other internet choices outside of stupid expensive satellite connections (yeah, you think that data plans are outrageous, go look at DirecWAY or WildBlue's plans).

If I had better reception, I'd use even more bandwidth! I'd use upwards of 10-20GBs of data when I was connected to a cable connection speed, but I am stuck here in the middle of nowhere due to my circumstances.

I am fortunate that Verizon has had the decency to not only cover my area, but to do so with 100% 3G (I believe 100% of Verizon's existing network is 3G, but am unsure).

The hilarious flip side to this is that Verzion does NOT have the decency to provide my road with DSL because of a farm that takes up over half of the damn road(they are the local land line provider).

I agree, that people in metro area's shouldn't be using so much data, but you have to wonder how many have ever bothered to setup their wifi(has any studies been done on these same users and if they KNOW who to use their wifi at home, etc)? Also, how many people (iPhone AT&T users) are Grandfathered in on $15/$30 unlimited data? Further more, how many places that have "free wifi" are still using data speeds from the year 2002!? Why would you bother to connect to those places when you do get faster speeds on congested 3G??

I won't lie, I nabed my unlimited Verizon data right before it ended because it was ending and I KNOW I hog bandwidth (by all means, I am not a stupid consumer), but I wouldn't have even bothered with a smartphone at all if I had a real broadband option. I was perfectly happy on my $15-$30 prepaid phone service with voice/text only ($10 spent on unlimited in VZW texting that I actually used), but am forced to pay $100 a month for a phone with way to many voice mins, and the data I need to HAVE internet at my home.

But let's not lie to ourselves, we know EXACTLY why these plans are so expensive even if they aren't custom fit to our voice/text/data needs: Our "free" phone. Something's got to pay for that "free" phone.. or hugely discounted phone. The HTC Trophy 7 I use doesn't seem like a nice phone compared to a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, but its retail value is $499.

People in this country simply do not outright buy their phones en mass. I bought my awesome Samsung A930 in 2006 and only paid $50 a month for a plan that fit my needs, but buying a $250 vs a $500 phone is a huge difference. We're buying these phones and paying even more then retail value because of our "installment" payments.

Do not forget even if you outright purchase a data phone now, if you want to activate it and not use data... well, NO carrier allows THAT anymore! So much for living from wifi hotspot to hotspot... unless you want to do some illegal things to your phone or use a crappy feature phone (not very any left).

Data phones are being shoved down our throats and we're eating it all up people.

RE: A distraction
By Jeffk464 on 1/9/2012 10:30:46 AM , Rating: 2
My "free phone" cost me $362 with tax and set up fees.

RE: A distraction
By x10Unit1 on 1/9/2012 10:57:06 AM , Rating: 2

Are you not getting 3G because you have a weak signal?

If so, you might consider getting a network extender. They are $200-$300 but can boost your signal considerably. If you aren't getting internet out there anytime soon, it might an option.

RE: A distraction
By fic2 on 1/9/2012 12:13:48 PM , Rating: 2
I use upwards of 2GBs of bandwidth a month. I doubt I am robbing many others of that bandwidth since many do not use data in this area (and those that do are stuck in Sprint's crappy 1X or AT&T's Edge), but I am forced to use so much bandwidth because I have NO other internet choices outside of stupid expensive satellite connections (yeah, you think that data plans are outrageous, go look at DirecWAY or WildBlue's plans).

Forced to use 2GB of bandwidth? Someone holding a gun to your head?

RE: A distraction
By fic2 on 1/9/2012 12:18:26 PM , Rating: 2
He didn't say that a bunch of farmers use more bandwidth. He said that because the build-out cost is the same for the 20 farmers as it is for the thousand commuters that it cost more per user to support the 20 users than it does the 1000.

You even quoted that. Try reading comprehension sometime.

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