Mobile Data Surpasses Voice Traffic For First Time

Total mobile data traffic topped mobile voice traffic in the United States last year, for the first time.

In fact, globally, data traffic (that includes SMS text messaging) topped voice traffic on a monthly basis last year and the total traffic across the world exceeded an exabyte for the first time in 2009, according to a report just released by Chetan Sharma Consulting, a leading strategist in the mobile industry (clients include AT&T and China Mobile).

Credit:  Chetan Sharma Consulting

What's an exabyte? One quintillion bytes, or one billion gigabytes. Yes, billion with a "b." And Sharma says North America and Western Europe's mobile data markets are growing so rapidly they each should exceed an exabyte in 2010.

Overall telecom revenues stayed flat, according to the report, mainly due to the worldwide recession. But they did not decline - unlike most other industries.

Interestingly, the nations with the largest data usage overall and the nations with the largest data service revenues were almost identical, just arranged in a different order. The top 10 by overall revenues were: U.S., China, Japan, France, Italy, UK, Germany, Brazil, Spain and India. By data revenues alone, they were: U.S. Japan, China, U.K., Italy, Germany, France, Australia, Spain and Korea. Though India fell off the list when it came to data revenues, it's one of the two top countries - the other being China - growing fastest in new mobile subscribers. The top 10 nations in terms of the number of mobile subscriptions looks still different yet: China, India, U.S., Russia, Brazil, Indonesia, Japan, Germany, Pakistan and Italy.

Credit:  Chetan Sharma Consulting

The only mobile companies worldwide that are bringing in $50 million or more in revenues are China Mobile, Vodafone, AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless. But many more companies have 100 million-plus subscribers. In fact, the top nine companies in terms of subscribers looks a bit different than the revenue list: China Mobile, Vodafone, Telefonica, America Movil, Telenor, T-Mobile, China Unicom, TeliaSonera and Orange.

Sharma said he expected 2010 to be the first year that mobile broadband connections would exceed fixed broadband connections globally.

Credit:  Chetan Sharma Consulting

And internationally, the total number of app downloads hit $7 billion; bringing in $4.1 billion in revenues. Asia had the largest percentage of downloads, but North Americans accounted for more than 50 percent of the app revenue.

While text messaging still accounts for the majority of data traffic, its supremacy is being chipped away at by music, television and video streaming, voice navigation, games, web surfing and other things. And Apple, RIM and Google are duking it out internationally when it comes to market share of phones, though Nokia still has the largest percentage - which is shrinking.

When it comes to providers, the market is contracting, too. There were many aquisitions and mergers between telecom companies last year and that trend is expected to accelerate, Sharma said.

He also warned that though everyone's talking about 4G networks, it is still unclear exactly what that means and when implementation may begin. So don't hold your breath just yet.

Tags:  Mobile, Data, Apps
la_guy_10 4 years ago

No surprise here as the Mobile Internet Device is the new laptop/desktop on the go, so to speak. Consequently you are going to have to upgrade the network. But yes I agree these stats make total sense. I commented yesterday about the "cellbow" and mentioned how that was strange cause most people I know text rather than talk on the phone. Still a neat stat none the less, better get those networks upgraded asap!!! This is just the beginning of the mobile boom IMO.

animatortom 4 years ago

If you give everyone automobiles, then you get more Traffic accidents!

The more people have Internet, the less they know how to talk to each other.

The lower the population, The more people have Cellbow! :P

Inspector 4 years ago

I don't get your last part animatortom. :)

As for the second one, its true, if ever one talks though the internet they will become not socialized with people out side... As smart phones rise expect this to keep rising!

rapid1 4 years ago

You see this is exactly what I am talking about with the Sprint subject. When Sprint drops this EVO unit, and especially in the large cities they have covered, if there network is not stout it will be slammed. I am thinking because there with a big player like ClearWire it will be fine though. So why would anyone want a 3G anything when you can grab an EVO and have a 10x faster 10x more capable mobile broadband, which also has considerably more security than anything with a 3 in front of it.

Then you see mobile data is going past stationary data it just makes that point that much more valid. I think I need to grab some Sprint stock before this thing hits, as no one else will have it in place until at least 6 months later. By that time companies like At&t may very well have lost a good 25% of there subscribers to it. This is especially true in that the large surge of there subscriber's have been almost all smart phone users.

In the technology age they will leave a company sitting on the plate like cold pancakes if they catch a whiff of some fresh ones. We will see I am not really predicting here, I am just saying with them having 4G available now in several big cities. When a able device hit's, all other providers may see a drop in subscribers in a months time.

Nethersprite 4 years ago

Not too surprised by this news. Voice doesn't really take up a lot of bandwidth anyway; in my opinion, if you're paying for a dedicated data plan, it would seem that you would by default generate more data traffic than voice. You'd need to talk a heck of a lot for them to even compare. Even people whose only data traffic is texting already rival voice transmissions.

Excellent points about losing communication ability by texting instead of talking. Even if what we know as "communication" itself is evolving to be more computer-oriented, people still need to know how to speak effectively. Then again, if you use slang in normal speech and don't pay much attention to proper grammar, chances are that your abbreviated and broken texts will pretty accurately reflect your impaired brain function.

RyuGTX 4 years ago

I don't know if I would call it evolving. Maybe more like expanding. Are we really communicating less in a face to face situation or maybe we are communicating more while keeping face to face (or voice) pretty much the same. Like if I didn't have text, I'm not going to call every friend on my contacts list telling them something non-important like a Twitter-like message.


I think if we got some statistics, that would be cool. I'm pretty sure (or just hoping) that it isn't so bad as we are making it out to be.

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