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Arieso Claim 0.1% of 4G Mobile Broadband Users Gobble Half of All Data

Friday, January 24th, 2014 (8:17 am) - Score 520
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Analysts working at Arieso have warned of an “explosive growth in mobile data usage“, fuelled by the latest generation of LTE based Mobile Broadband services, where just 0.1% of 4G customers were found to be “data hogs” that consume more than 50% of all downlink data (globally). iPhone5s owners were also named as the hungriest for data.

By comparison 1% of consumers on the older 3G platform were similarly found to gobble half of all downlink data and this figure has remained fairly steady for the past 3 years, which is despite many of those users having since swapped to newer 4G networks.

The study also found that iPhone 5s users demand 7 times as much data as the benchmark iPhone 3G users do in developed markets (20% increase on iPhone 5) and 20 times as much data in developing markets (50% increase on iPhone 5). Beyond the 5s, Apple products account for six of the top ten ‘hungriest handsets’, along with two Samsung products, one HTC and one Sony (Comparison Infographic).

Dr. Michael Flanagan, Author of the Study, said:

For the past three years we’ve seen explosive growth in mobile data usage, causing operators to have to wrestle with the challenges their success is creating. The faster the speeds that mobile operators provide, the more consumers swallow it up and demand more.

One would expect a honeymoon period in which early adopters test their toys. But for 4G users to consistently exhibit behaviour 10 times more extreme than 3G users well after launch constitutes a seismic shift in the data landscape. This has important ramifications for future network designs.”

Similarly analysts working at UK mobile operator EE have also predicted that data usage will grow significantly over the next three years and their trend-mapping predicted that this would equate to a 750% increase.

The problem for mobile operators is that data tends to be a more expensive commodity for them than on fixed line networks where “unlimited” plans are now common. On the other hand some operators, such as Three UK, have bucked the trend of capping 4G usage by continuing their “all-you-can-eat” style model (except on their dedicated dongle plans).

Capacity will thus become a key challenge for mobile operators over the next few years because more and more people will expect them to offer a fixed line level of broadband service.

NOTE: This article is referencing data usage on mobile networks, not all networks (e.g. fixed line, satellite etc.).

Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Avatar DTMark says:

    I prefer the EE approach of charging a relative small fortune so it always delivers 20Meg or more in both directions. But then I’m biased since where I am, it’s the only technology and operator capable of achieving that.

    Went to see a client this week and had an hour to kill @ Waterloo station so was browsing on phone. I guess the cell(s) are in the station. But then it ought to be horribly congested. Only so many frequencies available. So how was it so snappy there when just about everywhere else I’ve ever been, O2 is pants?

    1. Avatar MikeW says:

      Inside the station building you probably encounter a few useful effects: the cell you are on is probably close by, making for good power control and low losses; and the neighbouring cells re-using the same frequency spectrum are partially blocked by the walls, reducing the effect of interference -particularly from other mobiles near the cell boundaries.

      In addition, most 4G cells are probably designed to be large, wide-area, outdoor umbrella cells. While you have a low number of subscribers, and a large area to cover, this is the first way to build out your network. These cells will be designed for area coverage, rather than subscriber capacity.

      As you add subscribers, you start adding more cells at more sites, with smaller size and lower power. That way you gradually add the capacity you need.

      However, there will be pinch points where you deliberately build the network with the small, high-capacity cells early. Indoors in the biggest London terminus would be a good candidate for this.

      The combined effect is this: you are almost certainly sharing your normal cells with plenty of other users, sharing capacity, and doing so from a long distance. However, there’s a reasonable chance that an indoor cell inside Waterloo isn’t actually over-subscribed yet. Especially if you didn’t travel at the peak of rush-hour.

    2. Avatar DTMark says:

      Thanks for that Mike – all makes sense.

      Good point about the effect of the “signal/frequencies being kept inside the station” as it were.

      If I recall correctly the cells are mounted above the information boards, so I suppose I was about 150ft from them.

      Just a little surprised to see such good performance when in the past I’ve never managed to see more than about 6Meg down on O2 [3G] when out and about!

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