Mobile Data Usage Nearly Doubles

By  |  Friday, June 17, 2011 at 2:17 pm

In case you hadn’t heard, we’re using more and more mobile data these days. With apps becoming ever more connected, the need to use our wireless data connections has also increased–and we’re increasingly going mobile instead of sitting in front of the computer screen.

Research firm Nielsen has numbers out today that show an 89 percent increase in data usage from the first quarter of last year to the same period this year. Where we were using about 230MB on average a year ago, that has jumped to about 435MB now.

This puts into question the need by mobile carriers to rethink their bargain data offerings. While a lot cap those cheap plans at around 250MB, it’s now evident that a large majority of us need more data than that.

Want some even crazier statistics?

Look at this chart, and especially focus at the right — which is the 99th percentile, or top 1 percent of data users. Their usage has skyrocketed, averaging about 1.8GB last year, but an astonishing 4.6GB now. Can you see why the wireless carriers are so eager about throttling and caps?

I don’t know how you can even use that much data, although I frequently use about 2.5-3GB of data a month. According to this chart, that puts me in the top 2 or 3 percent of all data users.i

Knock on wood, I haven’t gotten throttled or capped yet, but I guess from the looks of this I shouldn’t get too comfortable.

One thing might be good about more data usage, and that’s the fact that we’re getting more bang for our buck. While data costs have not changed, the effective cost per MB has been all but halved. Today’s data user is paying about 8 cents per megabyte, versus 14 cents a year ago.

How much data are you using? Where do you fall in this chart? Let us know in the comments.


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9 Comments For This Post

  1. Max Says:

    I’m on a plan (in Australia) with 2gb of data included per month and use at least a gig of that.

    A lot of those cheap plans with 250mb data included likely have nasty per MB charges after that rather than throttling of speed. The phone companies love that people will sign up for a plan, use more data than included and not realise/be bothered to change to a better plan.

    That data speeds vary a fair deal even when you are in the same location and getting the same reception level is a pretty clear indication that in a lot of places the telcos are overselling their capacity more than they should be to deliver reliable service. My adsl connection is far more likely to be replaced by fibre (thanks to the federal government) than dropped for mobile only.

  2. lunarflame17 Says:

    I don't use any mobile data, because I don't have a smartphone, because I live in an area (rural Maine) that gets very poor coverage. We don't even get 3G here.

  3. portland Says:

    Data costs are going to keep dropping, and data usage is going to keep growing. I won't be surprised if the "unlimited" plans get modified to be not so unlimited. I just wish there was an option to have better and faster service versus more data. How about a high speed premium voice/data plan, where they drop someone elses calls instead of mine.

  4. James Says:

    portland, they already are. ATT (which will soon encompass TMobile also) has already gotten rid of unlimited data for new customers. Verizon has already announced their intention to do the same in the coming months as has Sprint. I know of people who hacked and got around the tethering feature and are using their phone to transfer an entire household worth of data. On the order of 50Gb or higher, all through their phone, and for the same $30/mo "Unlimited" plan as the rest of us who might use 2-3Gb a month. That's why they are doing this. They solve many problems at once by killing unlimited data.

  5. Jason McCrory Says:

    Luckily I got grandfatherd into the verizon unlimited data usage. I use around 20-25 gigs a month watching netflix on the bus while i commute to work and home, check facebook, run ebay from my phone and send paypal payments. Along with all of that i use my phone as a gps unit and also text over the data vis text plus so i odnt have to pay verizon for texting.

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    it’s not too shocking data since high tech mobile start to popular and I think one of the pioneer is Apple Iphone. People now choosing mobile phone for browsing than using computer