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LTE devices boost data usage on both cellular and wifi

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The adoption of LTE is encouraging users to migrate their usage of applications that were previously largely restricted to wifi onto 4G LTE networks, according to recent research.

Mobidia Technology, Inc., a provider of device-centric, mobile data solutions, and Informa Telecoms & Media jointly released research, “Understanding Today’s Smartphone Users,” which offers new insights into the use of smartphones and tablets and challenges some standard industry assumptions about their users.

With a rapidly growing body of data, Mobidia is able to provide mobile operators and the global mobile industry ecosystem with unique insight into subscriber behavior surrounding data usage on all the networks to which smartphones and tablets connect, including mobile cellular (and LTE), roaming and wifi. The data also differentiates usage patterns and behavior across device types and mobile operating systems.

By looking at this behavior, Mobidia and Informa have been able to draw the following conclusions among others:

• As expected, LTE networks and devices are stimulating increased data usage – in some cases up to 50 percent more. The data also demonstrates how the adoption of LTE is encouraging users to migrate their usage of applications that were previously largely restricted to wifi onto 4G LTE networks.

• Contrary to common assumptions, iPhone users actually consume more data than Android users in most developed countries. Android users often use more cellular data but when including wifi and cellular data, iPhone users average 37 per cent more data per month than Android.

• Intuitively, higher data plans lead to more cellular data usage. However, wifi usage is surprisingly consistent across users with varying cellular data plans – even those with smaller plans sized below 500MB.

• Similar to previous findings using Android-only data, iPhone users in most countries rely on wifi networks as their primary network connection. In countries such as Germany, wifi usage can be as much as 10 times that of cellular data usage.

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“Mobidia’s device-centric approach to a comprehensive understanding of wireless subscribers continues to yield a unique view and valuable insights into how people use their smartphones and tablets,” said Mobidia Vice President of Marketing Chris Hill. “Operators, OEMs, and others in the industry building networks, devices, offers and plans really need to fully understand data usage on all networks, including wifi, to truly understand how subscribers are using and valuing their technology.”

Mobidia’s data makes it clear that measurement of cellular-only usage patterns is only part of the picture when it comes to how consumers are using data. In fact, Informa’s analysis reveals that a cellular-only measurement of user demand can understate Android and iOS smartphone-originated traffic by a factor of several multiples in the world’s most advanced wifi markets.

“Mobidia’s data shows that wifi is now established as the primary means of data connectivity for a large and growing base of smartphone users across all major operating systems,” said Thomas Wehmeier, Informa principal analyst. “The key for operators to monetize additional cellular usage will be to invest in and enhance the capabilities of existing mobile networks, to identify and prioritize applications that are reliant on the inherent benefits of cellular networks, and, most importantly, to develop pricing strategies that allow operators to realign the price of access with the undoubted value perceived by the vast majority of customers. Mobidia’s data can provide the key insights to help operators achieve these goals.”

Informa’s findings and conclusions based on Mobidia’s data are fully outlined in a whitepaper titled, “Understanding Today’s Smartphone User: Demystifying Data Usage Trends on Cellular & Wi-Fi Networks. Part 2: An Expanded View by Data Plan Size, OS, Device Type and LTE.” In addition to wifi usage data, the whitepaper also provides interesting insights into time-of-day usage patterns, top app usage, and tethering across different networks and geographies.

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