Wireless Data Traffic More Than Doubles in 1 Year

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Experts anticipate wireless data usage to increase tenfold by 2019.

Americans really like videos – both viewing and sharing.

This fascination with video has led to a rapid increase in data traffic generated by mobile devices. In fact, PCWorld.com said wireless data traffic more than doubled in 2013, mainly driven by video.

U.S. carriers saw 3.2 exabytes of data traffic run across their networks, the CTIA said in its annual report on the U.S. wireless industry. An exabyte is 10×18 bytes or, put another way, a billion gigabytes.

The figure represents a 120 percent increase from the 1.5 exabytes carried in all of 2012.

If talking about wireless data traffic using exabytes and gigabytes causes your eyes to glaze over, I’m with you. (I’m technologically impaired, myself).

To give you a different perspective on how much we love our mobile devices, PCWorld also provided this information on how Americans spend time on wireless devices (based on 336 million users):

  • Talking — 218 billion minutes per month, or 650 minutes per line.
  • Texting — 153 billion messages per month, or 457 messages per line.
  • Multimedia messages — 10 billion, or 30 per line.

If you think we spend a lot of time on mobile devices now, just wait – a bigger increase is on the way. Ericsson recently forecast explosive growth (a tenfold increase) in mobile data traffic in the next five years, according to CNET.

The Ericsson report predicts the following:

  • Wireless subscriptions. By 2015, wireless subscriptions will surpass the world’s population.
  • Smartphone sales. By 2016, smartphone subscriptions will outnumber basic phone subscriptions. In 2019, smartphone subscriptions will reach 5.6 billion.
  • Data usage. An average smartphone user consumed about 650 megabytes of data each month in 2013. Ericsson said that by 2019, that number will increase to 2.5 gigabytes per month.

A recent study by wireless and mobile market research consultancy iGR said that by 2018, video will make up more than half of all mobile data traffic. “Even subscribers who only casually and infrequently use mobile data features today will watch increasing amounts of video content on their mobile devices by the end of the forecast period,” iGR president Iain Gillot said.

How much time do you spend viewing video, or doing other things, on your various wireless devices? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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