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Report: 80% of all mobile data is consumed by just 10% of users

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Cisco Systems this week offered some insight into just how much mobile data the world is consuming — 2.5 exabytes a month, to be exact – and now a new report from Amdocs sheds a little light on who among those billions of users is consuming the most. Amdocs found that just 10 percent of mobile users are consuming 80 percent of the world’s mobile data traffic.

[company]Amdocs[/company], a telecom equipment maker that specializes in billing and network operations, calls these folks the “Technorati,” and it’s easy to figure out who they are. They’re the consumers sporting not just advanced smartphones and tablets but often multiple connected devices.

Those numbers aren’t simply reflecting a split between wealthy and poor countries. Amdocs’ State of the RAN (industry shorthand for radio access network) reported on 25 million voice and data connections in major cities around the world, all with lots of smartphone usage, and found that power users are often using as much as 10 times more data than the average mobile subscriber. And since the average mobile data user consumed 100 percent more data between 2013 and 2014, Amdocs found, the data growth what for these Technorati is even more amplified.

Amdocs State of the RAN

Amdocs found not just a demographic split in data use, but also a geographic one: 20 percent of cell sites were generating 80 percent of all mobile data traffic. These areas tend to be the urban hot zones where people congregate, but those areas are also increasingly indoors. Amdocs discovered that 80 percent of all data funneled to mobile devices is being consumed indoors, and that means a large portion of it is hitting Wi-Fi, not cellular networks.

So going by Amdoc’s numbers, what we’re seeing is a very stratified network as mobile data takes over – much more stratified than when voice was the dominant mobile service. A handful of people are consuming the vast majority of all data and they’re doing it in very specific locations of the network.

Cisco VNI mobile data consumption

And Amdocs isn’t the only company that’s seeing these trends. Cisco’s Visual Networking Index focused on overall global carrier trends, not just major cities, but it found the top 10 percent of users consumed 65 percent of all traffic. Furthermore, by [company]Cisco[/company]’s calculations the highest 1 percent gobbled up 18 percent of all of the world’s mobile data, with each averaging 15.2 GBs per month. Apparently there are even more elite tiers within the world’s data elite.

6 Responses to “Report: 80% of all mobile data is consumed by just 10% of users”

  1. exhibit44

    They said that oil was never going to come down in price, and the same may be true for bandwidth. This story suggests that the market may be more hollow than we think. As I have said before, very popular microblogging and Tweets are theoretically very tiny bandwidth users, and even streaming services constantly tweak their throughput.

  2. i would be interested to know what devices the heaviest users are using. i would guess not any mobile device but laptops or desktops with USB data sticks or via wifi tethering. my experience is even modest use of mac, windows or linuc using many multples the amount of data of any mobile device.

    • RobJGood

      Out of my entire circle of friends, family and users, there are 2 users that are part of the 10% using 80% of my bandwidth (I supply connectivity to about 50 people.)

      Anecdotal but may help paint a picture.

      One person is elderly, cannot figure out any laptop/desktop (no matter windows 95/XP/7/8 or mac.) But she can figure our her smartphone, a Lumia 920 (doesn’t matter, iOS or Android would also get same usage.) She uses social apps and surfs the web to account for about 5gb mobile traffic per month.

      Another is my sister on my family plan. She gobbles up an astounding 20gb per/mo using her Lumia 1024 as a wifi hotspot to her Dell Win 8.1 laptop.

      My mobile usage is about 2gb per/mo…and that is HEAVY usage for me. Even using my 920 as a hotspot for 4 days in a row, I never go over 2gb.

  3. Steven Hanifl

    I suppose I am part of the 1%, but most of my data is music streaming and app updates. One Play Store movie is at least 1 GB… My worry is that people such as myself will be singled out for actually using the technology, and not being someone who buys a $700 phone to update their Facebook status.

    And when are we going to call foul on these ridiculous data caps? What is the point of 4G LTE when you can use your 2.5 GB in an hour? Sorry, cell companies, it doesn’t cost you very much to transport 1 GB of data, certainly not what you charge.

  4. Ray Oñate

    This number only applies because folks now a days are so cautious about about not going over their data plan cap. They’re always worried, and making sure they are connected to wifi to avoid ridiculous overage charges.

  5. jonsmirl

    On Verizon 15.2GB a month is about $150 in overage charges since they took away my unlimited plan. My cell Internet use has dropped 70% since losing that plan. If I had known upgrading my phone was going to lose the plan, I never would have upgraded. I even tried to get the store to give me my old phone back and they wouldn’t.