Europe's operators ring in 2016 with strong data, text traffic growth

Operators across Europe heralded the start of 2016 with reports of surging data traffic and record numbers of texts sent during 2015 and the first hours of the New Year.

For example, Telenor Bulgaria -- which only launched its 4G services on Dec. 1 -- said it saw a record data traffic growth of 250 per cent in the first hour of 2016 compared to the same period of 2015. The company noted that data traffic through the Telenor 4G network increased by 40 per cent in the last week of December compared to the first week after the launch.

The company's 4G network now covers 57 per cent of the population in Bulgaria and all cities with a population of more than 20,000, as well as all major ski resorts.

Telenor Norway, meanwhile, said Norwegian mobile users sent 5.4 billion text messages over its mobile network during 2015 -- a new record for a calendar year. "At the same time, we sent each other 17.2 million New Year greetings via SMS and MMS," the company added.

Bjørn Amundsen, director of coverage at the operator, said Norwegians are continuing to use SMS as a communications channel despite the availability of new forms of messaging.

"This is because SMS is reliable, delivers safely, and you know that the message is read," said Amundsen, who also noted the company had seen an increase in SMS usage among small businesses to communicate with customers.

Telenor Norway added that data traffic was about 47 per cent above last year's New Year's Eve. "This may indicate a growing share of New Year greetings via social media with photos and video clips," Amundsen commented.

Dutch operators also reported strong growth in data traffic over the New Year. KPN said mobile data usage of its customers doubled in 2015 compared to 2014 with average usage exceeding the 1 GB barrier.

Jacob Groote, CEO mobile networks at KPN, said the reason for this increase lies in a combination of factors.

"Firstly, we increasingly use smartphones with bigger and better screens and better cameras that are becoming faster…Also, the use has changed, including the ability to stream short videos and music on the smartphone is immensely popular," said Groote.

The New Year holiday is traditionally the busiest day of the year for the mobile network, with data traffic around 40 per cent higher than a normal day, KPN added.

Vodafone Netherlands reported that between 6pm on Dec. 31 and 4am the following morning it handled around 30 terabytes of traffic, an increase of 114 per cent from a year ago. There were also 7 million phone calls over its network, while SMS traffic increased by 30 per cent.

For more:
- see this Telenor Bulgaria release
- see this Telenor Norway release
- see this KPN release
- see this Vodafone NL release

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