Mobile traffic will continue to skyrocket in the coming years, according to new research from Gartner.
Global data usage in 2015 is expected to grow 59% versus year ago levels. This follows growth of 80% in 2013 and 71% in 2014.
There are several factors leading to this substantial growth but mobile apps are the main reason. These apps are enabling consumers to watch videos and stream music on their phones, which is greatly increasing data usage.
“Although network speed and reliability are priorities for many mobile customers, it is really apps and content that are driving traffic volumes as people increasingly chat to friends and family, watch videos on the move, and listen to streamed music,” said Gartner analyst Jessica Ekholm in a statement.
Mobile video use is booming. By 2018, 60% of all data usage is projected to be from mobile video.
More affordable 3G and 4G handsets have increased the number of cell phone users which has, in turn, fueled growth in data usage.
The study found the average 4G phone will use approximately 5.5 GB of data by the end of 2018, and 4G accounts will represent 46% of all mobile data traffic. This prediction and others made by Gartner analysts suggest that phone providers will have to get creative in the near future to keep up with the increasing data demands.
3G phones are expected to grow by nearly 46% globally in 2015, and 4G phones will grow by 59%. Carriers working in both 3G and 4G regions will need to find more ways to make data affordable for their users.
Several phone companies, like T-Mobile and AT&T, have started “rollover data” plans in an effort to draw in customers and satisfy existing ones. These programs work much like the rollover minutes programs, where unused data for the month is rolled over and added on to the next month’s limit. A user with a 4GB limit who used only 3GB for February would have 5 GB to use in March due to the 1GB rollover.
“The amount of time consumers spend on the Internet, whether via mobile phone, tablet or PC, will continue to increase,” said Ekholm. “Phone providers will need to focus on creating new pricing with a focus on data access, such as shared plans.”