Will Video on iPad, Other Tablets Crush Mobile Networks?


Could tablet computing overwhelm mobile networks with video traffic? If you consider the current quality of video being consumed on networks today, versus what users will expect on large-screen mobile devices like the iPad, mobile carriers might be in a world of hurt once more consumers buy those devices.

So far, users have been mostly limited to watching low-resolution, non-bandwidth-intensive videos on their mobile devices. But the Apple iPad (s AAPL) and a whole new generation of mobile tablets using Google’s Android (s GOOG) operating system have the ability to push video data consumption on mobile networks to the limit.

New research from Bytemobile shows that the majority of video consumed on mobile networks continues to be low-quality, low-resolution clips. According to the firm, 57 percent of video consumed on mobile devices is 240p video resolution, compared to 22 percent of videos that are in 360p resolution and 21 percent that are in 480p resolution.

But while mobile users view 240p resolution videos about three times as much as 420p mobile videos, the higher-quality videos use up nearly as much data. 240p videos use up 39 percent of mobile video traffic, compared to the 31 percent of mobile video traffic that is used up by 420p videos. That’s bad new for mobile operators, as large-screen mobile devices such as the iPad and upcoming Android tablets increase the demand for high-quality mobile video.

Even worse, higher mobile data rates mean more video going across carrier networks. Bytemobile compared the amount of data traffic across multiple mobile carriers and found that those with faster networks delivered a larger percentage of video across their networks. Video on a network operating at 400 kbps made up only 39 percent of data traffic, compared with 57 percent of data traffic on a network running at 850 kbps.

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My iPad 3G uses an average of 10 gigs of data a month for the last five months. A lot of netflix, abc, pandora, and a little myfi. Thank god I got in on unlimited.

Vamshi Sriperumbudur

Great post, Ryan! Very interesting to see the more bandwidth mobile users have from their carriers the more video they consume.

This data apparently is all mobile carrier bandwidth. is there any data on the mobile video consumption spread from WiFi Vs mobile carrier bandwidth? For longer and better quality videos, consumers might be preferring WiFi..

Lucian Armasu

They won’t crash the networks. Carries will offer only tiered/expensive data plans for tablets. If you’ll watch video for more than a few hours your monthly data plan will be used up.

Lucian Armasu

They won’t crash the networks. Carries will offer only tiered/expensive plans tablets. If you’ll watch video for more than a few hours you’re monthly data plan will be used up.


Archos Android tablets support HD video streaming, click on any video file be them AVI, Mp4, MKV, whatever, and it just streams instantly. Also, with Flash support and Browser User Agent set to Desktop, you can stream 2mbit/s 720p video in Android 2.2.

This is good, this will accelerate the move to free wireless broadband networks using the free and unlicenced 700mhz spectrum and to set it up with smaller base stations in people’s homes that share to neighborhoods, like the FON.com model.


We don’t need video – mobile networks are already crushed. Today in downtown D.C. around 11a I had access to Sprint 3G, Verizon 3G, and AT&T WiFi (courtesy of Starbucks), and they were all unacceptably slow. Could not get something as simple as a blog post done, much less watch video.

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