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Are you getting enough data? Video streaming and apps create extra demand from smartphone users

The growth in mobile data traffic will continue and should treble to 173PB by 2018 analysts predict.
Written by Colin Barker, Contributor

Global mobile data traffic is set to reach 52 petabytes, or millions of terabytes, in 2015 according to the analysts Gartner. This will represent an increase of 59 percent over 2014 with growth set to continue through 2018, when mobile data traffic is estimated to reach 173 petabytes for the year.

This continuing upsurge in data traffic has caused Gartner's analysts to advise its clients and especially the communication service providers (CSPs) to "rethink their data caps to meet consumer needs".

According to Gartner research director Jessica Ekholm mobile data traffic is currently soaring worldwide and will more than triple by 2018. But while overall traffic is soaring the newer and faster mobile data connections (3G and 4G) will grow from 3.8 billion in 2015 to 5.1 billion in 2018, as users switch from slower 2G connections and consume more mobile data, she said.

In the third quarter of last year, Gartner conducted a mobile app survey in which it asked 1,000 users in the US and another 1,000 in Germany about their mobile habits. According to Ekholm the survey showed some difference in the data usage in the two countries with German users being more restricted by their data plans, making them less likely to watch videos or consume large amounts of data via cellular networks than their colleagues in the US. The bottom line is "less revenue per user for CSPs in Germany" said Ekholm.

Some 54 percent of German users said they were more likely to wait until they get to a wi-fi area to download an app or stream content from a video app compared to 36 percent of US users.

So while some 43 percent of US users felt unconstrained by their data plans, just 20 per cent of German users felt the same.

Some 38 percent of German respondents said they only get 500MBs with their monthly data plan. On average, Germans stream 10.6 minutes per cellular video session compared with 17.4 minutes for Americans.

Again, according to the survey, families with children are driving mobile video usage. Users with children were the least concerned about using cellular data to stream video and, again according to Ekholm, "with almost no correlation to income. This is being encouraged by CSPs enabling plans with data sharing available between devices".

And streaming video over cellular networks isn't just for children and young adults, Ekholm said, as the opposite appears to be true. In the US, 47 percent of the 45 to 54 year olds surveyed stream 15 minutes or more of mobile video apps over cellular networks per session, whereas only 40 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds stream more than 15 minutes.

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