Report: Mobile data traffic patterns look similar to fixed broadband patterns

Network policy provider Sandvine on Tuesday will release its semi-annual Internet traffic trends report, which looks at the state of mobile networks and analyzes their mobile broadband traffic trends using a representative cross-section of mobile broadband operators worldwide. The conclusion: Traffic mimics the kind of traffic seen on fixed broadband networks.

"In our Mobile Internet report, we observed that mobile users were running similar applications as on fixed networks, including real-time communications such as IM and Skype," said Sandvine's President and CEO Dave Caputo in a release. "With the emergence of more powerful mobile devices, like the iPad, and the ready availability of laptop dongles, more and more users on the go will be foregoing traditional voice in favor of data-centric, bandwidth-intensive applications." 

Tom Donnelly, co-founder and executive vice president of Sandvine, told FierceBroadbandWireless that, in accordance with what AT&T has said about usage trends, that 5 percent of users account for approximately half of the data traffic on average.  "Flat-rate billing does not align with subscriber usage," he said.

Donnelly said Facebook is the most widely used application on mobile data networks, with users connecting on average once per hour. "It's not media intensive, but as it becomes more media rich, that can have a dramatic impact on the traffic patterns of networks," he said. Social networking in all, accounts for up to 9 percent of total bytes on any given mobile network, and YouTube accounts for 10 to 15 percent of total bytes on a given mobile network.

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