Mobile users the world over came close to doubling their mobile data consumption between 2012 and 2013 as average monthly usage peaked well over 1 GB in the U.S, and several other countries, according to Cisco Systems' new Visual Networking Index report on global mobile data trends.
North America led the pack with the average mobile subscriber consuming 1.38 GBs a month, up from 752 MBs in 2012 and a full gigabyte more than the average global usage of 356 MBs. When looking at individual countries, Japanese users led the world with 1.87 GBs, followed by the U.S. at 1.41 GBs and South Korea with 1.25 GBs.
Those three countries happen to be the first to launch LTE networks on a large scale, and according to Cisco director of service provider marketing Thomas Barnett, 4G adoption has become the strongest indicator of skyrocketing mobile broadband use worldwide, a conclusion other studies have also reached. In Western Europe, where LTE only got off the ground recently, average mobile data usage is half that in North America, coming in at 717 MBs per month.
As you might expect, smartphones are a big driver of that increased data appetite, but tablets are contributing as well. Cisco, however, is seeing a surprising surge in PC connections to mobile networks. Barnett attributes that to the fact that laptops are starting to resemble tablets, coming with touchscreen capabilities and retractable keyboards. As people start to use their laptops like tablets, they’re increasing treating them as mobile — not merely portable — devices.
Last year the world saw 1.5 exabytes — an exabyte being 1 billion gigabytes — of data traverse its mobile networks each month. Cisco expects that number to grow to 15.9 exabytes in 2018.