Mobile Data Usage To Reach 52 Million Terabytes This Year

Mobile data usage will increase 59 percent this year over last to reach 52 million terabytes, according to a new report from market research firm Gartner. The company predicts that growth will continue through 2018, when mobile data usage will reach an estimated 173 million TB.

"Mobile data traffic is soaring worldwide, more than tripling by 2018," said Jessica Ekholm, research director at Gartner, in a prepared statement. "New, fast mobile data connections (3G and 4G) will grow more slowly, from 3.8 billion in 2015 to 5.1 billion in 2018, as users switch from slower 2G connections and consume more mobile data."

In the third quarter of last year, Gartner conducted a survey of 1,000 smartphone users each from the United States and Germany to learn about their mobile data usage. The countries were chosen for the differing ways service providers offer data, with German companies being more strict with the amount allotted to each user.

German users reported they were less likely to stream video or otherwise consume large amounts of data over their cellular networks than their U.S. peers, telling surveyors 54 percent of the time that they would wait until they got to a Wi-Fi network as compared to only 36 percent of U.S. respondents.

"This is because more than 43 percent of U.S. users felt unconstrained by their data plans, while just 20 percent of German users felt the same," according to a news release.

Families with children reported the least concern with using mobile video data with nearly no correlation to income. But children and young adults weren't the most likely to stream video via cellular networks. In the U.S. that distinction went to adults aged 45-54, 47 percent of whom reported streaming video for 15 minutes or more each session, compared to only 40 percent of 18-24 year olds.

"The results also showed that YouTube is increasingly being used to stream video for longer periods of time, rather than just for 'snacking'," added Ekholm, with only a small difference in the percentage of users who report watching YouTube in chunks of five minutes or less and those who reported watching it for 30 minutes or more at a time.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].