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.
I AM THE ONE PERCENT