Mobile data usage continues to rise as video consumption grows

All signs point to the average mobile user needing greater amounts of data. A recent study from Swedish telecom Ericsson found that the average mobile data usage worldwide had grown to more than 10GB per month. The rise in 5G networks, along with carriers’ offer of unlimited data since 2017 in the US, has been a partial contributor. Users in certain countries also rely on mobile devices as a primary internet device. In fact, Pew Research recently found that 15% of smartphone owners in the US are mobile-only internet customers, meaning they do not pay for broadband access separately.

One of the biggest bandwidth hogs is streaming video, which has certainly played a part in the growing mobile data usage figures worldwide. In the US, According to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, 56% of smartphone owners have engaged in one or more video-related activities on their phones in the past week, including watching short videos (44%), making video calls (32%), watching a full-length TV show (21%), or streaming a full-length movie (17%). The numbers are high across age brackets, but teenagers in particular are driving much of this data usage, as 64% of teens have engaged in one of these video activities in the past week.

With Ericsson forecasting that average mobile data usage will reach 35GB per month by the end of 2026, wireless carriers should be in a good position to capitalize on data-hungry consumers who are willing to pay more for unlimited plans and new 5G bandwidth support. Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile have collectively invested tens of billions of dollars into building 5G infrastructure, and they need to start seeing a ROI on this huge expenditure by attracting more customers to their premium plans. “Mobile is truly at the epicenter of our connected world in 2021,” said Harry Wang, Senior Vice President at Interpret. “The average user will browse the web, watch videos, engage in video conferences, stream music, and play games on their smartphones on any given day, and the continual stream of data is adding up quickly. Companies that can offer intelligent/proactive network management solutions while giving consumers an uncompromising experience will be the real winners in the long-term.”