Social media fuels bandwidth surge

The synergy between social media and mobile broadband continues to strengthen as social networking becomes a 'must-have' part of peoples' lifestyles

Global mobile data bandwidth usage increased 68% in the first half of 2010 compared to the previous half.

Allot' MobileTrends report found the growth rate, which is equivalent to a CAGR of 184%, suggests that the mobile broadband market (devices, apps, etc.) has not reached full maturity. As the ecosystem continues to develop, massive amounts of data traffic will continue to create challenges for broadband operators. 

One of the report' key findings is the natural synergy that exists between social media and mobile broadband, which the rise of Twitter and Facebook clearly illustrates. This synergy continues to strengthen as social networking becomes a 'must-have' part of our lifestyles and changes the way we conduct both our personal and business lives.

On the other hand, as new MIDs, applications and services continue to be developed, it seems certain that the challenges faced today by mobile broadband operators are just the beginning. With YouTube having increased its share of global mobile bandwidth usage to 13% from 10%, the consumption of more real-time, on-demand, user-generated content seems to be a major force for innovation and change within the market. 

The latest MobileTrends report, Allot' fourth, collected data from anonymous sources from January 1 to June 30. These sources include leading mobile operators worldwide with a combined user base of more than 190 million subscribers.

The survey found that video streaming grew by 92% and remains as the fastest growing application type worldwide. As was apparent in all previous MobileTrends reports, video streaming is the single largest consumer of bandwidth, currently with a share of 35%.

This is likely due in part to the popularity of sites such as YouTube, the increased demand and subsequent bandwidth consumption per user and the move to more user-generated content.

YouTube's growth jumped to 123% in the first half of 2010 from 90% in the second half of 2009. YouTube remains the single most important destination for video streaming, accounting for 13% of global mobile bandwidth and 40% of overall video traffic in mobile networks. With more and more smartphones and MID's including pre-installed YouTube apps, mobile video has become a truly mainstream form of entertainment. 

Twitter alone surged by 310% during the first half. One possible explanation for this is the sheer suitability of the medium for mobile. With dozens of mobile apps for Twitter in the market and more being developed every day, it has become a popular, affordable and user-friendly way of communicating.

Facebook jumped 200% in its global mobile bandwidth usage. This is likely due to the increase in mobile Facebook users which, according to the company's official statistics, currently number 150 million users.

Also, Allot found that HTTP downloads and peer-to-peer (P2P) growth rates slowed to 44% and 36%, respectively. P2P and HTTP downloads together represent 31% of global mobile bandwidth with an aggregate growth rate of 80%.

It should be noted that although VoIP and IM experienced 84% growth, these two applications account for only 3% of mobile broadband bandwidth.

The majority of VoIP traffic in mobile broadband networks is still generated by IM applications. Skype has continued to dominate this segment, increasing its share to 83% from 77%. Skype is leaving competitors like Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger and Windows Live Messenger far behind.