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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: Who pays the ferry man?
By dgingerich on 1/7/2012 4:58:55 PM , Rating: 2
I use about 250-300MB per month, yet because of AT&Ts plans, I have to take the 2GB plan. They have a 200MB plan for $10 less per month, but if I used that, I'd wind up paying about $20 more per month in overage fees. a 500MB plan would be great.

RE: Who pays the ferry man?
By Solandri on 1/9/2012 11:45:32 AM , Rating: 2
I still don't understand why people are so dead set against metered plans. If the price is competitive with a tiered plan, what is the problem? You pay for how much you use, no more, no less. It's how practically everything else in life is sold - gas, electricity, food, etc.

The only reason to have tiered plans is if you're a business which wants consistency in your monthly bill, for planning purposes. Which is the reason the cellular companies prefer people to be on tiered plans (so their monthly revenue is predictable). But it doesn't explain why most customers want to be on a tiered plan.

RE: Who pays the ferry man?
By tastyratz on 1/9/2012 2:18:26 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with the idea of metered usage plans, there could be bulk buying discounts in steps if they wanted to incentivize data usage.

The reality though is not what is fair, it is simple basic business economics. While there are a few users who use $5000 worth of data if that was the bill they were given they would simply quit.

The standard bandwidth users who currently buy a $20-30 might like paying less money... but they are willing to subscribe at a rate of $20-30 so it is in the providers best interest to keep you on. If data usage and smart phones were both scarce they could entice with a paultry plan but the only reason those teaser plans exist is to force subscribers to buy the next tier package or lose data entirely. Same goes with buying x minutes per month instead of paying 3c per minute, etc.

Do I think it's fair? hardly... but the business model is one of the most successful ones in the world. Everyone complains on dailytech, but at the end of the month you pay your bill.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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