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Cellphones Communications Handhelds The Internet Wireless Networking

Average Cellphone Data Usage Is 145.8 MB Per Month 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the mostly-to-imdb-and-wikipedia-during-arguments dept.
destinyland writes "For the first time, the majority of cell phones are accessing data services — 53 percent, compared to only 42 percent last year, according to a new study by Validas. And each user downloads an average of 145.8 MB per month (the average was just 96.8 MB per month in 2009). The heaviest users are Verizon smartphone owners, averaging 428 MB per month (338 MB on average for iPhone users). In fact, Verizon users were twice as likely as iPhone users to exceed both 500 MB and 2 GB each month."
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Average Cellphone Data Usage Is 145.8 MB Per Month

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  • Standard deviation (Score:4, Informative)

    by Again (1351325) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @11:35AM (#33095560)
    I clicked on the article and couldn't find any mention of standard deviation. Knowing the standard deviation would make statistics like this far more interesting and meaningful.
    • by compro01 (777531) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @11:39AM (#33095580)

      Presumably they're withholding that information in the actual study which will be released in September.

      • by jesset77 (759149)

        I clicked on the article and couldn't find any mention of standard deviation. Knowing the standard deviation would make statistics like this far more interesting and meaningful.

        I actually don't care about the deviation or distribution. What I want to know is the population sets.

        I'm of course rooting for Verizon here, but if it happens that AT&T is supporting 10x the data subscriber base then a moderate drop in average rate is to be expected as average is aggregate divided by population.

        In short, which provider is pumping the greatest number of bits to the greatest number of phones? If It's Verizon, then #attfail pure and simple. If it's AT&T, then we might need to start le

    • by julesh (229690) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @12:02PM (#33095724)

      I clicked on the article and couldn't find any mention of standard deviation. Knowing the standard deviation would make statistics like this far more interesting and meaningful.

      Knowing the distribution might be more helpful. I would intuitively expect this to be exponentially distributed, at which point knowing the standard deviation is actually pointless (one would expect it to approximately equal the mean).

      • Just out of curiosity, did you happen to read Again's sig?

        We need a -1 doesn't know how to use quote tags moderation.

        • by julesh (229690)

          Just out of curiosity, did you happen to read Again's sig?

          No. I browse with sigs turned off. I also intentionally don't use quote tags, as I don't like the formatting of them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by camperslo (704715)

      Perhaps there are other factors that account for the differences?

      How much do Verizon users tether?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Timmmm (636430)

      Knowing the standard deviation would make statistics like this far more interesting and meaningful.

      Only if it is normally distributed, which is very unlikely.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mcrbids (148650)

      You can probably assume plenty of deviation; with my smartphone's link with the company Zimbra collaboration server, my monthly average is around 7 GB per month. Strangely, watching a movie or two on my phone in an airport doesn't seem to make any noticeable difference in my actual usage.

  • by samkass (174571) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @11:37AM (#33095570) Homepage Journal

    This survey only covers billed 2G/3G data. As an iPhone owner, I know the data I user per month on AT&T networks has declined recently as AT&T wi-fi hotspots seem to be proliferating everywhere. From Panera to McDonalds, it seems like most lunch spots have free wi-fi, and my home and work certainly does. I don't know how good Verizon's phones are at dealing with wi-fi, or whether they include 802.11b/g/n like the iPhone. In addition, as apps are often more efficient than sites at communicating over the network, some of the reduction is almost certainly due to "there's an app for that" reduction.

    In short, I really don't think the MB/month over 2G/3G is necessarily indicative of how much internet is used on a phone anymore.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ClaraBow (212734)
      Good point! As an iphone user, I often use wifi and AT&T does have a great wifi network. The iphone connects automatically to AT&t wifi networks so it's transparent to to user! AT&T wifi is free for iphone users! I think that need to be counted in the data usage, as it is part of the data plan.
      • by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Saturday July 31, 2010 @05:44PM (#33097710) Journal

        Good point! As an iphone user, I often use wifi and AT&T does have a great wifi network. The iphone connects automatically to AT&t wifi networks so it's transparent to to user! AT&T wifi is "free" for iphone users! I think that need to be counted in the data usage, as it is part of the data plan.

        (quotations added)

        Hey, guess what!

        My Motorola Droid also talks to AT&T hotspots*! Should we also include my AT&T Wifi data usage, even though I don't have an iPhone or AT&T phone service?

        Of course not! It's cellular data usage that is being discussed, not overall data usage!

        *: As a Uverse customer, I get "free" access to AT&T's Wifi network when I'm out and about.

    • To bolster your point, I use about twice the data via WiFi than over the EDMA/3G connection that IO am billed for.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tronbradia (961235)
      I'm on TMo and my plan is unlimited. I never switch on my Wifi card, ever. I don't observe any speed difference when I do, and I have no financial incentive. I bet Verizon is the same way. I should mention I live in NYC where 'free wifi' is pretty much unheard of anywhere where you would actually want to use it.

      It sounds to me like what you're actually saying is that AT&T's plans and network are so crappy you don't even use them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by binarybum (468664)

        exactly. I would use data much more often on my iphone if it actually worked anywhere. instead I find myself looking over the shoulders of my colleagues surfing the net at conferences on their verizon droids while my iphone sits there looking at me reading 'no signal'.

    • by Witmar (1844282)
      Over the Air Data is all that really matter when comparing wireless providers. Wifi is nice as it unburdens the carriers network, but this report is how much network bandwidth each carrier can handle on average per month.
    • I think you're on to something. It's only been recently that VZW phones have started to get integrated Wi-Fi. For example, the Blackberry Curve 8330 didn't have Wi-Fi capability at all, so there was no means of offloading traffic. Verizon traditionally prevented handsets from having Wi-Fi capabilities up until fairly recently. Personally, I probably *would* have been using Wi-Fi more often when I had a Curve if it was available. I think the answer is going to change whether the statistics are taken at the h

    • by luther349 (645380)
      well free wifi isnt really something to give credit to at&t mcdonalds ended there pay program. i can get on it on my psp or my phone of any type that supports wifi. i convinced a local pc shop hear that used to use there wifi for lan party's to put up a huge wifi rig to cover pretty mutch all of the downtown city aera with free wifi. so its just a mater of hotspots becoming more and more common. i let my bankrupt nabors kid use my wifi even thow i have it wpa2 encrypted. being she asked. so its just a
    • by SolusSD (680489)
      It's also worth nothing that many Android users leave there WIFI off b/c Android doesn't power down the Wifi antenna when it isn't being used. The iPhone, on the other hand, is very aggressive about power saving with both 3G and Wifi. The end result is iPhone users take advantage of nearby Wifi networks more often than Android users.
      • It's also worth nothing that many Android users leave there WIFI off b/c Android doesn't power down the Wifi antenna when it isn't being used.

        Where did you get that information from? It sounds pretty questionable. According to Google, using wifi is better for your battery because the antenna isn't on as long for data transfers.

        • by icebrain (944107)

          Wifi uses less battery power when you're actually sending data. The problem comes when you leave wifi on and you aren't in range of a wifi station (say, driving around or in a place without wifi) the phone keeps trying to look and search for wifi connections, and it eats up the battery while doing so. I only turn wifi on when I need a data connection and I know one is available, otherwise it eats the battery (just like being somewhere with little or no signal kills battery with your normal data connectio

          • If they iPhone does things better, how do they figure out when you are in range of a basestation again to turn the WiFi back on? They have to do some sort of periodic polling, just like Android.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Pollardito (781263)

      In addition, as apps are often more efficient than sites at communicating over the network, some of the reduction is almost certainly due to "there's an app for that" reduction.

      Actually lots of apps will request data refreshes without user intervention, so they probably ultimately use more data than the browser. Android apps are able to do more operations in the background than iPhone apps are, which might explain the fact that Verizon users average more data usage.

  • so little? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by simp (25997) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @11:39AM (#33095584)

    That's on average less then 5MB per day. If I read a few 400 comment threads on slashdot or fark I already have to download that much html. What are these people doing with their phones?

    • by houghi (78078)

      I do nothing even if my phone is able to do so. It is an average, remember?

    • Re:so little? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by somaTh (1154199) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @11:56AM (#33095678) Journal
      Talking?
    • Maybe you're not representative of a typical user in the broad sense? Slashdot and Fark represent niches, not the general population. Heck, not even I try to read such huge threads, I keep ./ at a level where I only see the top 20 or so posts, even on a desktop computer. I'm not interested in reading page after page on a 3.5" screen.

      • Re:so little? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by MoonBuggy (611105) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @12:11PM (#33095792) Journal

        On the other hand, though, I'm continually surprised at just how heavy the average web page seems to be. My phone has a little bandwidth ticker in the corner, and often the front pages for company sites, or the pages for single newspaper articles come in at over 1MB. Switching off images seems to be a thing of the past, so I'd think most users are getting hit with that full page weight.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Nursie (632944)

          Not just images!

          Take a look at adblock's list of blockable items on some of these sites, the amount of stuff they pull in from different sources is massive.

        • That's what Opera Mini is for.

          (and if you tether your laptop, desktop Opera with Turbo enabled)

    • by Firethorn (177587)

      Personally? I tend to use my BB to read email, mostly. Don't even bother to download images normally. A 400 comment in slashdot is pretty huge, on average.

      Just looked it on some of my bill - I seem to average just under 30 Meg a month, 1 meg a day. If I can use a computer, I use a computer. I'm not watching youtube videos on it.

    • Email, Skype, Pandora, MLB at Bat streaming of games, apps, it all adds up. I average around 460MB per month on my iPhone. Probably closer to 600 in the summer time since I listen to a lot of day baseball games via MLB at Bat and I stream Pandora in my car driving around.

      • Email, Skype, Pandora, MLB at Bat streaming of games, apps, it all adds up. I average around 460MB per month on my iPhone. Probably closer to 600 in the summer time since I listen to a lot of day baseball games via MLB at Bat and I stream Pandora in my car driving around.

        I've put 3-7 gigs of use in each of my first 2 months with my EVO and it doesn't feel like particularly heavy use. Not enough to require a battery recharge between 7 AM and midnight, at least. I guess the free tethering apps make a difference.

        • Well, if you tether, it goes up very high, very fast. That 3-4" screen really does keep your usage down.
    • by Shillo (64681)

      OK, Android user here. Time for some anecdotal evidence - take it with a grain of salt.

      Slashdot comments is precisely the kind of webpage that's openly hostile to phone users. Phones, even those with usable browsers, suffer from slow CPUs, lack of RAM, small screens, and inability to JIT Javascript. Slashdot comment pages, on the other hand, are heavy on data, VERY heavy on Javascript, and are formatted with deep indentation that's painful to track on a mobile phone screen.

      When I surf from mobile, I read Sl

    • by GIL_Dude (850471)
      I guess the better question is, "what should we be doing with our phones that we are not?". We all have our own usage patterns. My phone is the Motorola Droid on Verizon. The last couple of months I have used 185 MB and 169 MB. What do I do on it?

      Contact sync
      Read news
      Get movie info (Flixster and IMDB)
      Use My Tracks to upload hike info
      Some use of Pandora (not a lot)
      Google voice (for texting; the calls use phone minutes not data, but the texting uses data)
      Google Maps and Places

      I'm sure there are more
    • Using WiFi, I presume. I have it at home, I have it at work, I have it at the university, I have it at the library... the rest (basically what's left over for 3G) is just E-mail and light browsing (forums/Slashdot/blogs).

    • That's on average less then 5MB per day. If I read a few 400 comment threads on slashdot or fark I already have to download that much html. What are these people doing with their phones?

      Making/receiving phone calls? Just a guess.

    • by luther349 (645380)
      probably not even loading websites. data counts on more then html so if they just check some emails and send a pic or something they will not use mutch data. and probably not using any data for days at a time. they are giving you avg so thats the the total data used divided by 30. and you get a daily usage avg. my buddy has a 3g modem he only uses for mmos at work. he works security and they let him do anything to stay awake. anyways mmos use very little data most of them anyways so he has a little 250mb a
  • My cell data usage is ~3GB for this month. Yea wifi tethering!
  • The number in the OP includes all the power users and all the non (or minimal) users. A much more useful measurement would be to know how much data an average user uses. Depending on the proportion of power to non users, that could be more or less than this average for all users.
    • by NekSnappa (803141)
      Ok, I'm no statistitian. But it sounds like you're saying that you'd rather see the numbers for the 20% with the lowest usage, and the 20% with the highest usage thrown out and the middle 60% averaged.

      Essentially re-averaging the middle of the bell curve. Doesn't seem like that would be any more valuable than the average of all users since it would be an average of users that are in the average range of all users.
      • by petes_PoV (912422)

        e-averaging the middle of the bell curve

        In a way, yes. What I'm stumbling towards is some sort of realisation that there are some (how many? very few or a large proportion) of cellphone user who has little or no data usage. Maybe they just make voice calls if this is normal behaviour for the 42% of non-smartphone owners then it's significant. OTOH, we aren't told if there are also a small number of people on, or who have been on, unlimited tariffs who skew the average massively.

        As a fellow non-statistician, this sounds to me like wanting to kno

  • While good to know that most people don't use that much data over cell connection. But Apple could use it to show that Android phone are so difficult to use that people don't know how to install wifi with it. Or it could be that there are more apps for the iPhone so less need to download web content for UI. Or it could be that more techy people use Android feature. Or it could mean AT&T has bad service in heavy use areas

  • Statistics fail. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kurokame (1764228) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @11:50AM (#33095650)

    This is not useful data. The average data usage per month for all cell phone users includes (from the article) the 47% of all cell phone users who are not data users at all. This is like trying to find the average upload & download per month for broadband users by finding out the total bandwidth used by broadband subscribers then dividing it by the entire population of Earth.

    Now that we've established your level of mathematical competency, could I interest you in a few lottery tickets?

    • by brasselv (1471265)

      About 95% of the surveys I see on mainstream news outlets, have some type of severe or killer statistical flaw in the data, that should be entirely obvious to any mildly clever 4th grader. This one is no exception.

      I still wonder if it is due to basic mathematical illiteracy, or to a headline-grabbing attitude.
      Either way, it's depressing.

      • It's due to the assumption by news outlets and journalists that most people are mathematically illiterate, so they should speak to that level. It's also far easier to get the results to match your message when you can pick and choose between the available statistics, even when in isolation, the individual statistics are useless.

    • At a growth rate of 50% per month in a very few years usage will average over terabytes per month and AT&T's extra usage fees will exceed the GNP of the United States. It's a conspiracy I tell you.

    • by leoofborg (803260)

      THANK YOU. I knew that I smelled bullshit.

      I live (mostly) out in the country away from the madding WiFi crowd. Can you guess how much 3G guys like me are sucking up? It's not 500 meg. Try 20x that. And *not* tethering. At all:

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/leoofborg/4814198808/ [flickr.com]

      Lies, damn statistics and all that.

  • by Ryokurin (74729) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @12:10PM (#33095788) Homepage

    I didn't see it listed in the article, but around 43% of Verizon users use data, compared to the 71.2% of at&t users that the article did mention. Even with the wifi network at&t may have the bigger burden due to more users.

    • Even with the wifi network at&t may have the bigger burden due to more users.

      AT&T have a bigger burden due to their shitty cell network.

  • Verizon teathering (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nemilar (173603) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @12:16PM (#33095814) Homepage

    I'm in the 500M to 1G camp, and I'm on Verizon. The only reason my data usage is so high is because Verizon offered to give me the "mobile hotspot" feature free for life (a little app on my phone that acts as a gateway and gives me a wireless access point which then routes out to 3G). I use it literally every day, on the train, to connect my netbook to the internet.

    Without the mobile hotspot, I would probably use less than 100M per month. And hey, they gave it to me free!

  • Since yesterday when I have no internet, I've been using my nexus one to tether. Just browsing the internets on my laptop I've gone over that. Limit is 1GB. let's hope i have the internet installed by then!
  • With a voice call at ~8 kbps, 140 MB is equivelent to 40 hours of talking on the phone a month. Smartphone data is pretty darn significant in the phone company world.

    • by Aranykai (1053846)

      Yes, but one is packet routed and the other is circuit switched. Obviously, one puts much less strain on the network.

    • by Spyrus (633357)
      You make it sound as if talking on the phone for an average 70 minutes per day is a lot. Is that what you meant?
  • I was downloading the torrented facebook files over verizon.

  • What is that?

    AT&T, no thank you. I've had their service in different forms, and was passed along between them and Cingular for too long.

    Verizon, no thank you. After limited use with their terrible computer hijacker called VZ Access Manager, any company with deceptive practices like this are not for me.

    TMobile, no thank you. Had them for just over two years. I was never really dissatisfied with the service, but my phone bill was approaching $100/mo toward the end of my contract because I started using

  • The really interesting data would be how much data usage has grown over the past 3 years, and even over the past 3 months.

    AT&T changed their iPhone data plan from unlimited to 2GB/month. You bet your bippy that AT&T had projections as to when the average consumer would exceed that allotment so that they can begin offering higher tier data plans for more $$$$$$$$$.
  • I'm doing my bit to push up the average. I used about 55GB last month on a Sprint 3G smartphone plan and think replacing my DSL with using my phone instead was a great decision. It's only $70-$80 a month for such a nice plan, too.

    • by pspahn (1175617)

      I thought about doing the same, but one of the handiest things I now do with my phone is to remote desktop into my home PC. Wyse Pocket Cloud is full of win. Likely one of the coolest evolutions in computing I have ever seen. I can even log in to our ancient HP-UX POS machine from anywhere*. Using it takes some practice, but it's a great way to access such a legacy system without having to install a bunch of new stuff.

      If they come out with an Android version of Reflections, our entire customer processing d

  • Average data use is a meaningless statistic, and I'm sick of seeing people trot out those numbers to justify tiered pricing plans that punish people who use their smartphones for their intended purpose. I think the point of the article, as stated in the title, is that smartphones are here to stay and their usage is only going to grow. A few years ago, few people were interested in browsing the web over an EDGE connection. Now there are zillions of ways to be connected and entertained. Even non-geeks. Wirele
  • This is actually quite interesting to see how much data usage differs. I'm a quite normal "nerd" user of a cellular network via mobile phone around 8-10 gigabytes per month, that includes the random mobile phone usage as a laptop modem. I have my own landline at home, so the mobile network is not the only option. But it helps to have a 17 dollars per month plan with unlimited data, no speed limit in a HSPA+ network with good country wide coverage.
  • by spauldo (118058) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @08:33PM (#33098626)

    After buying my iPhone, I found a number of "features" on it that pissed me right off. Granted, I should have researched more, but I was on a limited time frame.

    In any case, I decided I'm not going to pay a dime to the app store. I'm not sending any more money to Apple.

    Because of this, I don't have that many apps on it. I browse the 'net a bit, and use Google Maps quite a bit, but other than that I don't really do much. I could pretty much replace the thing with a $30 phone, a GPS navigation system, and a book to read while I'm waiting on my food at truck stops.

    My next phone will be an Android (probably second-hand and unlocked, since I doubt AT&T will start selling them any time soon) and I expect my usage will go up quite a bit.

    (For those curious, a small sample of my problems with the phone includes the crippled bluetooth, the requirement for itunes to do anything to the phone, the lack of jailbreak ability (this has since been solved, but wasn't when I got the phone), the lack of flash support, and the insane way you have to go about converting mp3s to ringtones, among other nitpicks. All these are related to how Apple wants to control my use of the phone. The killer was when, shortly after I got the phone and had everything set up on it, my one machine with windows on it crashed, and after I reinstalled it insisted I erase my phone in order to resync it. I'm not a violent man, but I came really close to crushing my phone with my truck when that happened.)

    • I'm shocked by the fact that you're a Slashdot reader that wasn't aware that Apple would try to control your use of your phone.

      That said, AT&T carries a number of pretty decent Android phones now. Check out the Captivate for a very nice one.

      • by spauldo (118058)

        I got my phone right when the 3GS came out, and I didn't pay any attention to the articles on phones before then. I knew apple would try to be controlling, I was just amazed at how far they went.

  • I am far more interested in seeing more refined details based at least by phone, if not carrier and plan.

    After all, does it make a difference if you are on a web-capable phone with an app downloader and a special mobile phone web browser compared to a smartphone with a full web browser and flash 10.1 compatibility? Does it matter if your phone has a 240x80 LCD with a d-pad for navigation, a 2.7" touch screen with ink input and virtual keypad, or a 4.3" touch screen with virtual keypad? Does it matter if y

  • Phone platform aside, I wonder if they included or included the bandwidth re-transmitted due to errors on the line? My experience has been that Verizon has significantly higher failure rates per packet than other superior (GSM) networks. You're out in the boonies with Verizon 3G, and you're taking 2-3 times as much bandwidth to actually transmit/receive. In contrast, with t-mobile you either have a connection or you don't.

  • At the beginning of June when AT&T's new data plans were announced I was a little miffed as an iPhone owner but curious what my actual usage was. I had gotten used to the idea of "unlimited" data and wondered how close to the 5GB soft cap I was getting. I figured the new 2GB cap for "unlimited" would really screw me over. On June 2nd I reset the data counter on my iPhone and checked it against at the end of the month and reading this story I checked it again. I'm only averaging about 170MB of cellular d

  • Over here in Norway, I've got a pay-as-you-go phone; zero subscription costs, but I pay for usage. Ignoring voice for the moment, that's at a rate of 10 øre (roughly 0.0165 US dollars) per MB of traffic. There are, of course, no caps; that would be silly.

    How does this chalk up to what you get elsewhere?

    • by Lummoxx (736834)
      Well, on Verizon, it's $30/month for "unlimited" data. Since the average Verizon uses 421 MB per month, I'll go with that. Your rate, multiplied for 1GB of data, works out to be $16.90 US.

      So the average Verizon users pays almost twice as much as you do, for less than half as much data. I can only wonder what the hell those who only use a couple hundred MB/month (or less) are thinking.

      I'm a long time Verizon Wireless customer, and only recently became interested in a smartphone, due to Andr
  • The data costs in the US are astounding. Do you have no infrastructure or is this just what the market will bear?

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