Mobile bandwidth use soars 200% in 2010

Demand for global mobile data bandwidth soared 73% in the back half of 2010 fuelling a near 200% rise in usage over the course of the year, research by Allot Communications shows.
The network optimization firm’s latest report into the state of the market shows that overall demand grew 190% in 2010, with the bulk of the growth fuelled by use of video streaming services, which grew 94% in the July to December period alone.
That growth left video at the top of the pile of mobile broadband applications with a 37% share of the total market during 2H10, ahead of file sharing on 30%, web browsing (26%), and VoIP and instant messaging (4%).
Jonathon Gordon, Allot’s marketing director, told Telecoms the bulk of video traffic is over-the-top services like “YouTube, CNN or the [BBC’s] iPlayer.”
Indeed, YouTube dominated streaming video during 2H10, growing 190% and accounting for 45% of all streamed video on mobile networks.
However, VoIP and instant messaging were the second-fastest growing services with usage up 87% during 2H10 – a “phenomenal rate,” according to Gordon.
Skype was the main driver of the growth, generating 87% of VoIP bandwidth during the period. Gordon notes VoIP is likely to take a larger slice of overall bandwidth in future as video services come online.
The report also found that Apple’s dominance of applications stores is quickly being eroded by Android Market, despite the App Store remaining the most popular with an 89% share of all download traffic in 2H10.
Google’s store registered 172% growth in usage during the period – dwarfing Apple’s 54% rise.
However, the growing demands on mobile data networks presents carriers with a problem – namely how to deal with increased congestion.
Gordon says it’s tougher to tackle congestion on mobile networks compared to fixed, because the problem is as mobile as the network it runs on, meaning carrier’s can’t rely on upgrades alone.
“It’s about managing links better, about real-time analysis of congestion,” he notes.
Carriers will also have to change the way they communicate the value of services to consumers through tiered tariffs. “Different types of traffic have different values,” Gordon said.