Report: Verizon, Sprint account for 63% of nation's mobile data traffic

Report: Verizon, Sprint account for 63% of nation's mobile data traffic

Summary: In 2009, Verizon Wireless and Sprint each carried more than 16 billion more megabytes of mobile network data than AT&T, according to a new report.


In 2009, Verizon Wireless and Sprint each carried more than 16 billion more megabytes of mobile network data than AT&T, according to a new report.

According to ABI Research, Verizon Wireless carried the most mobile data, followed by Sprint. Together, they accounted for 63 percent of the U.S. market's data traffic.

A few takeaways from the report:

  • AT&T had the most activated data devices in 2009.
  • Laptop mobile data connections have the most impact on operator data traffic levels.
  • As you might have guessed, mobile broadband laptop connections to Verizon and Sprint far exceed AT&T's laptop connections.

According to ABI, Verizon will maintain the top data traffic position over the next five years. AT&T is predicted to surpass Sprint by 2012, with Sprint still ahead of T-Mobile.

And perhaps the most important point: all operators will see mobile data traffic levels increase eightfold from 2010 through 2014.

Topics: Verizon, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Networking, Telcos, AT&T, Wi-Fi

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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  • So AT&T Was Lying As Usual

    Blaming IPhones for their crappy network service when the blame wasn't theirs to begin with.

  • The Kindle

    Aren't all Kindles connecting to the Internet through Sprint?
    • Correct!

      Yes all Kindles use Sprints 3G network.
  • RE: Report: Verizon, Sprint account for 63% of nation's mobile data traffic

    I love Sprint's data service. Currently, it's my only connection to the internet. I've used Sprint's data network since 2002. I look forward to getting 4G!
    • Sprint vs Verizon

      I used Sprint for years, and loved it, but Verizon has much broader coverage in Arizona, and I needed it.
      • but ...

        When you're off the Sprint network - you're on Verizon (with no roaming charge).

        My oldest son is going to school in a rather remote area - way off Sprint's radar. He 'roams' on the Verizon network for 9 months of the year - and I never see an extra charge.
  • Wait.. something doesn't make sense here..

    Is it possible that Sprint/Verizon count for voice and
    data diffrently from T-Mobile and AT&T? Could CDMA --
    and how voice/data channels are accessed -- have
    something to do with it?

    When I look around the airport, train station, public
    places.. I see TONS of iPhones in use and hardly ever
    see a Palm or Verizon phone being used. with that,
    simple looking around would tell me that AT&T has
    higher traffic. But 16 Terabytes(if my math is right)
    more than AT&T?

    I'm not an AT&T/T-Mobile defender. It's just that my
    BS detector is going nuts!
    • Did You Not Read The Article?

      You need to reread the article. The article clearly states that mobile aircards account for most of the data. This means even though there are far fewer aircards in the hands of consumers when compared to the number of handsets, these aircards consume WAY more data packets than handsets. This further compounds ATT claims of their 3G network, which is vastly smaller than Verizon's. Even though Sprint has a much smaller footprint than ATT, most of that footprint is all 3G...whereas ATT's isn't.
    • come out of your bubble

      Your personal space does not equate how the rest of the country operate. By your logic if you live in a wealthy neighborhood where every other car is a mercedes you would assume they sell better than any other car on the planet. Think beyond the little phones in your hands. Data can be requested in many ways.
    • Your Math

      "But 16 Terabytes(if my math is right)
      more than AT&T?"

      Actually 16 billion megabytes is closer to 16,000 terabytes or 16 petabytes(actually like 14.9 petabytes).

      And yeah, AT&T sucks. Your BS flag likely was raised because this doesnt fit in with your confirmation bias.
    • Return that BS detector

      It doesn't seem to be working to well.

      That, or you just don't want to accept something because it doesn't fit your flawed logic.
  • RE: Report: Verizon, Sprint account for 63% of nation's mobile data traffic

    Could be the packet size? Could be also that the iphone is NOT as prevalent as thought. The fact that JeffBinDC see's more iphones at public transportation sites may be just a perception that there are more iphones in use. The fact is that some of us don't want, nor will ever succumb to AT&T's bum service and coverage! We can't get iphones at Sprint or Verizon, So we get what we want from what they do have! I have a Pre, and I'm sad that Palm is having troubles staying afloat, as I really like it compared with the iphone. When it has to be replaced, I most likely will go with a HTC or Android type phone, and stay with Sprint!
    Also, what about stuff like Blackberry? If you keep up with stats, you will find that the Blackberry group of phones from ALL carriers outsold, and still is, the iphone and all other smart-phones! Another possibility is smart-phones aren't the only data users out there! For instance the Samsung A900 series features cameras, live TV, games and such on a smaller screen, but never-the-less, is a more affordable option with some teens that can't afford a larger phone like the iphone!
    There's just too much variants to say this is BS. And Verizon's and Sprint's coverage areas are so much larger than AT&T's, no matter what their ads say! Nationwide usage is the key, and size DOES matter!
  • RE: Report: Verizon, Sprint account for 63% of nation's mobile data traffic

    I wonder which one is a ZDNET Sponsor?
    • Umm...

      Actually ALL of them! I've seen ads for all of the 'big three' in print, and on-line!
  • Report is only on LAPTOP DATA!

    The report is only on Laptop data, not cell phone data. It's flawed and basically a lie.
    • Re: Report is only on LAPTOP DATA!

      Did you not read the article correctly? Did you read it at all?? The article is talking about 3G data in general, At&t have data cards as well. Even Still, the fact that Verizon and Sprint are able to handle that much "3G" data, proves their networks are far superior to At&t.
  • Laptops and IPhones are not the only mobile devices to use data

    To all the naysayers that this report is flawed because they happen to see more IPhones around them..... AT&T has 30% of the total wireless subscriber base and 28% of smartphones sold are the IPHONE, a wopping 40% is still with the RIM Blackberry. Also, all mobiles currently sold are capable of handling. Second, you don't need a smartphone to access music, email, video/picture multimedia messages, GPS, the internet..... All handheld devices can perform this message. It happens to be that with a smartphone it is much easier utilize these services (and with a larger screen). Smartphones account for only 20% of marketshare. So keep this in mind.... Smartphones are not the only devices to use data (same with the wireless data cards)... and AT&T only has 30% marketshare. So why would this article even surprise anyone?
  • <a href="">refill prepaid</a>

    I?ve been w/ verizon for the past 3 yrs, and am very pleased overall. I?ve never used the other providers, but alson have no interest in doing so. I can say, from personal experience, I do get more signal than that of my coworkers and friends. My phone works where everyone elses does, and even in places I?m not expecting it to, like smaller, less populated areas. The main con I have against verizon is no rollover minutes. The iPhone deal, I wouldn?t even get 1 just cause I don?t wanna have exactly what everyone else has.