Wednesday, 16 May 2012 01:03

Mobile data consumption exploding

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A new worldwide forecast has predicted that in five years time mobile phone users will, on average, consume 6.5 times as much video, over eight times as much music and social media, and nearly 10 times as much games as they did last year, causing an explosion in traffic for most mobile data services due to the spread of smartphones and an increase in the number of mobile users.

In its latest global market report, research and analyst firm, Informa Telecoms & Media, forecasts that by 2016, on the back of a 23 percent increase in the number of mobile users, there will be a big upsurge in traffic for most mobile data services with the average mobile user browsing six times as many web pages and downloading 14 times as many megabytes of applications on their handset as they did in 2011.

And, there’s more increases across the market over the five years, with Informa predicting that text (SMS) and picture (MMS) messaging traffic will continue to grow, albeit at a much slower pace than most other mobile data services. On average, mobile users sent 118 SMSes and two MMSes a month in 2011, compared to the 146 SMSes and four MMSes Informa says they will be sending in 2016.

“The top three data guzzlers on mobile phones over the next five years will be applications, video streaming and web browsing – in that order of importance,” says Guillermo Escofet, senior analyst at Informa. “Yet, the top revenue earners in 2016 will be web browsing first, followed by P2P SMS and applications. Video streaming will represent less than 1% of mobile data revenue in 2016, despite hogging a third of handset traffic.”

According to Escofet, usage of Internet-derived messaging services, namely instant messaging and e-mail, will see higher growth. “For example, compared to the global monthly average of 31 mobile instant messages sent in 2011, users will be sending 118 in 2016.  The services that put the greatest strain on mobile networks won’t necessarily be the ones that bring the most revenue.”

Informa also reports that the growth in traffic will far outstrip the growth in revenues, with global mobile data traffic growing from 3.89 trillion megabytes in 2011 to 39.75 trillion megabytes in 2016, amounting to a tenfold increase. By contrast, the research firm says that global mobile data revenues will grow from US$325.8 billion in 2011 to US$627.5 billion in 2016, amounting to a twofold increase.

And although the revenue pie will grow, Informa says that the slice kept by mobile operators will shrink. “If we exclude data and SMS/MMS – over whose sale operators have a monopoly – the percentage for operators of what users pay for all other data services – anything from downloading a song to making purchases via a mobile wallet – will drop from 56% in 2011 to 41% in 2016,” Escofet forecasts.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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