Video Could Drive A 40-Fold Spike In Mobile Data Over Next Five Years

A UK consultancy is predicting that tiered pricing plans for mobile internet are inevitable, given the dramatic rate at which mobile data — and especially video — is expected to rise in the near future.

By 2015, U.S. mobile consumers are expected to consume 327 petabytes of mobile data a month, rising at a compound annual growth rate of more than 117 percent, according to Coda Research Consultancy, which released the 87-page report today. As Mobile Crunch points out that represents a 40-fold increase in data consumption over five years.

At the core of this massive growth is mobile video, which Coda predicted will rise even faster. In 2015, video will consist of 224 petabytes of data a month, representing a compound annual growth rate of 138 percent.

One of the biggest topics at this year’s CTIA was how to keep up with consumers’ increasing mobile appetite. Whether this particular forecast turns out to be right, most carriers are looking at obtaining more spectrum and rolling out 4G to handle the curve. Steve Smith, co-founder of Coda, said carriers will cope by offering different rate plans for different levels of consumption. In a release, he said: “Flat-rate pricing has helped drive mobile internet adoption, but we envisage that as smartphone penetration rises and as carriers roll out 4G, carriers will have to move toward tiered pricing.”

Coda said that peak capacity is not as much the main concern as general capacity — which makes it even more scarier because that means the networks could be tapped out all the time, not just at big events, like a conference or baseball game. “As carrier networks now stand, network utilization will reach 100 percent in 2012 during peak times,” Coda said. At that same time, smartphone penetration will reach 40 percent in the U.S.

Other findings:
— the number of people accessing social networks from their phones is supposed to rise 21 percent annually between now and 2015.
— the number of mobile video users will rise by 34 percent annually to reach 95 million in 2015.
— non-SMS data revenues will climb at 17 percent annually, and will form 87 percent of all data revenues in 2015.