iPhone (s AAPL) users have long been accused of being data hogs, gobbling up bandwidth and crushing AT&T’s (s T) 3G network. But it’s Android (s GOOG) users who could be pushing their carrier’s limits by watching huge amounts of mobile video over 3G networks rather than Wi-Fi, according to new research from mobile ad network Rhythm NewMedia.
Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of mobile video viewed on Android devices happens over mobile carrier networks, compared to 28 percent viewed over Wi-Fi networks. That’s significantly higher than iPhone users, who view 56 percent of mobile video over 3G networks, compared to 44 percent watched on Wi-Fi networks.
That will be bad news for network operators, which have seen video usage increase dramatically on mobile networks. And, as Stacey at GigaOM has long predicted, it’s bad news for consumers, who can expect more mobile carriers to begin rolling out metered billing for mobile data traffic.
AT&T, which has exclusive rights to the iPhone in the U.S., has already rolled out metered billing on its mobile data plans, killing the unlimited plan that iPhone and other smartphone users had taken advantage of over recent years. The new data plans may be one reason why iPhone users are less likely to use the 3G network over Wi-Fi, although it’s worth pointing out that AT&T has long sought to limit the amount of mobile video traveling over its network by ensuring that some video-heavy applications were limited to Wi-Fi use only.
With Android now outselling iPhone and BlackBerry mobile devices (s rimm), you can probably expect Verizon (s VZ), Sprint (s S) and other mobile carriers to follow suit and start their own metered plans, particularly if Android users continue to use the 3G network for video viewing.
It will also become more important as mobile phone users watch even more video. Viewing times for mobile video continued to increase, according to Rhythm NewMedia, with the amount of time viewers spent watching full episodes of TV content increasing 20 percent quarter-over-quarter. The ad network reports that after starting a full-length episode, 26.5 percent of users watched the entire thing on their mobile devices, and 41 percent watched at least half the episode.
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