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Summary:

Teliasonera, the first carrier to offer LTE, is already witnessing its average customer using between 14 and 15 GB of wireless data per month, which rivals the 14.9 GB used by the average wired broadband consumer. How will carriers handle and price for such data demand?

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Next-generation LTE networks are just rolling out, but already they show signs of a potential future in which wireless data demand surpasses that of wired broadband; one LTE carrier is seeing the average LTE customer use between 14 and 15 GB of wireless data per month. How dramatic is that? Last month, a Cisco report indicated the average wired broadband user consumed 14.9 GB of data per month, meaning that as faster wireless networks are implemented, they could be used more than fixed wireline connections such as cable, FiOS and DSL. That’s a serious issue, given the limited nature of wireless spectrum.

The surprising wireless consumption figures were picked up at last week’s LTE Forum by Deutsche Bank analyst Brian Modoff, who today released an industry report on wireless equipment. Modoff noted the demand difference between slower 3G connections and LTE in the report, saying:

One of the most interesting presentations we saw last week was a video conference keynote from Teliasonera, the first operator to have a commercial LTE network. In a lot of ways, Teliasonera is not a typical carrier, but they had some interesting insight to share on their experiences to date. They have seen a healthy degree of interest in their mobile data cards. They said that the average smartphone user on their network consumed 375MB/month of data. The average broadband user on their network, largely 3G data cards, consumed 5 GB/month. But the average LTE consumer (essentially all data cards) used 14 GB – 15GB/month of data.

The difference in mobile broadband use between 3G smartphones and 3G data cards is expected: the smaller screen of a handset is more limiting than that of a notebook, so smartphone data use is tempered by display size and the apps that fit it. Move your web activities to a larger and more capable computing device, and your data needs will rise accordingly. But device size and capabilities are only part of the equation — as connection speeds increase, the more that wireless broadband connection is likely to get used.

With rising use as network speeds increase, operators will continue to tweak pricing plans to balance network infrastructure, spectrum, consumer demand, and of course, profits. As I’ve mentioned recently, we’re currently undergoing a seismic shift in mobile broadband, perhaps the biggest since the implementation of 3G networks a handful of years ago. Carriers are upgrading networks to provide faster speeds for more data-intensive activitie,s and yet, even before these networks are up and running, many operators are still trying to find the most effective pricing plans to prepare for the onslaught of higher network usage.

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  1. TeliaSonera (and other Swedish operators) are promoting 3G cards as replacement for wired broadband. Once the performance of mobile internet starts to approximate that of wired connections, it should not really come as a surprise that so does the consumption.

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  2. This could finally give cable co’s some real competition in the ISP industry. Bring it!

    Just wondering though, how do you get your current router to work with the wireless “router” card for devices that are hard wired? In other words, if speeds really start to deliver, how do you get your XBOX 360 or other devices onto this network?

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    1. you can use cradlepoint routers or other from other manufactures

      http://www.cradlepoint.com/

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  3. We have not seen anything yet! When internet went from dial up to DSL, average usage increased by 10X two years in a row, for a compound 100X growth in data flow. 4G growth is expected by some to be even more dramatic, compounded by the “mobility factor” similar to the way that cell phones take market from land lines. This could be the “perfect storm” for network providers. Clear may be the first to recognize this as they are sitting on 100 MHz of cleared spectrum. ATT and Verizon have both considered limits on usage to buy time for them to catch up with increased demand. Life is going to get very interesting….

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  4. [...] delivers an average 30 Mbps down and in some cases over 50 Mbps depending on location. They consume 15 GB of data per month.Let that sink in a little. People who have roughly 10 times the available bandwidth of a [...]

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  5. [...] delivers an average 30 Mbps down and in some cases over 50 Mbps depending on location. They consume 15 GB of data per [...]

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  6. [...] delivers an average 30 Mbps down and in some cases over 50 Mbps depending on location. They consume 15 GB of data per [...]

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  7. [...] TeliaSonera says the average LTE user so far is consuming 15 GB of data every month. [...]

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  8. [...] that Verizon uses for the new phones: the faster the network, the more that people will use it. The average monthly customer on Teliasonera’s 4G network, for example, gobbles up nearly 15 G…. That means customers could blow through a 5 GB data plan on 4G handsets far faster, which would [...]

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