[LINK] Top 1% generate half mobile bandwidth
stephen at melbpc.org.au
stephen at melbpc.org.au
Sun Jan 8 01:37:39 EST 2012
Top 1% of Mobile Users Consume Half of Worlds Bandwidth, and Gap Is
By KEVIN J. OBRIEN www.nytimes.com Published: January 5, 2012
The worlds congested mobile airwaves are being divided in a lopsided
manner, with 1 percent of consumers generating half of all traffic.
The top 10 percent of users, meanwhile, are consuming 90 percent of
Arieso, a company in Newbury, England, that advises mobile operators in
Europe, the United States and Africa, documented the statistical gap when
it tracked 1.1 million customers of a European mobile operator during a
24-hour period in November.
The gap between extreme users and the rest of the population is widening,
according to Arieso.
In 2009, the top 3 percent of heavy users generated 40 percent of network
traffic. Now, Arieso said, these users pump out 70 percent of the
Michael Flanagan, the chief technology officer at Arieso, said the study
did not produce a more precise profile of extreme users. But the group,
he said, was probably diverse, with a mix of business users gaining
access to the Internet over a 3G network while traveling, and individuals
with generous or unlimited mobile data packages watching videos, the main
cause of the excess traffic.
Some people may draw the parallel to Occupy Wall Street, and Ive
already heard comments about Occupy the Downlink, Mr. Flanagan
said. But the situations are very different, and the mobile situation
doesnt break down along socioeconomic lines.
The Arieso survey found that 64 percent of extreme users were using a
laptop, a third were using a smartphone and 3 percent had an iPad.
The imbalance in mobile phone consumption is another example of a
relatively small group of individuals dominating the consumption of a
particular resource. The United States, with less than 5 percent of the
worlds population, consumes about 23 percent of the worlds daily oil
production, according to American government figures. Japan, Germany and
Italy, whose populations together make up less than 4 percent of the
worlds total, accounted for 31 percent of global natural gas imports in
2010, according to the International Energy Agency.
Pal Zarandy, an analyst at Rewheel, a research firm in Helsinki, Finland,
that advises operators on data packages and pricing strategies, said the
disparity in bandwidth use was not surprising because most mobile phone
users globally used a 2G telephone for calls and texts only.
Just 13.2 percent of the worlds 6.1 billion cellphones are smartphones,
according to Ericsson, the leading maker of mobile network equipment, but
the rate exceeds 30 percent in larger markets like the United States,
Germany and Britain.
The more powerful phones are rapidly replacing the simpler, less
voracious devices in many countries, raising traffic levels and pressure
on operators to keep pace. In countries like Sweden and Finland,
smartphones now account for more than half of all mobile phones, Mr.
Zarandy said. About 35 percent of Finns also use mobile laptop modems and
dongles, or modems in a USB stick; one operator, Elisa, offers unlimited
data plans for as little as 5 euros, or $6.40, a month.
As a result, Finns consume on average 1 gigabyte of wireless data a month
over an operators network, almost 10 times the European average. As more
consumers buy smartphones, the level of mobile data consumption and
congestion will rise in other countries.
This of course is bad news for operators because it means that more
traffic is coming and they need to invest to stay ahead of the curve,
Mr. Zarandy said.
Mr. Flanagan at Arieso said one European operator, which he declined to
identify, last year installed 250 miniature base stations, called
microcells, to handle the traffic of extreme users. The operator, he
said, did not wish to publicize the work because it did not want to draw
attention to the strains that its network was experiencing.
Patrik Cerwall, the head of strategic marketing and intelligence at
Ericsson, which is based in Stockholm, Sweden, said most operators were
beginning to look for ways to make their networks more efficient, whether
by dumping data quickly into a fixed-line network, imposing volume limits
on customers or installing miniature base stations at congestion points.
Ericsson expects the volume of global mobile data to rise tenfold from
2011 to 2016.
The rate is likely to accelerate as more consumers integrate the mobile
Web into their daily lives. Last year, for example, 40 percent of
smartphone owners in an Ericsson survey used their devices to gain access
to mobile broadband connections even before getting out of bed.
The heaviest users of mobile data, according to Ericsson, watched videos
40 percent of the time, surfed the Web an additional 20 percent, and used
up the rest of their online time in e-mails, social networking, file
sharing and software downloads.
Advances in smartphones and applications technology are also driving up
Arieso researchers, in their latest survey, found that users of Apples
iPhone 4S downloaded 276 percent more data from an operators network
than did people with the Apple 3G, which has been on the market since
Part of the reason for the increase in download volumes may be Apples
Siri voice feature on the iPhone 4S, Mr. Flanagan said. Siri allows
consumers to dictate to the phone and enter more text and data into the
network in an easier way. The growth of cloud computing-based
applications like iTunes and other cloud services, which use the mobile
network to connect consumers with remote computers, may also be a factor,
In uploaded data volumes and the total number of calls to the network,
two Google Android handsets made by HTC, the Taiwanese manufacturer,
topped the list.
People using the HTC Desire S uploaded 323 percent more data than those
with the iPhone 3G, and those with an HTC Google Nexus One phone made 221
percent more calls to the network. Calls to the network include the voice
and data calls started by the user, as well as the automatic
communication between the device and the network to update its
applications or transmit its location.
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