Study: 0.1% of LTE users consume more than 50% of LTE data

A small sliver of LTE users worldwide, just the top 0.1 percent, are consuming more than half of all LTE downlink data, according to a new research report from network technology firm Arieso. The study, taken together with past trends from previous reports, indicates that a small slice of high-bandwidth consumers are hogging most of the world's data usage, even more than in the past.

This is the fourth year Arieso has reported on data usage trends. In March 2013, network test and performance assurance company JDSU paid $85 million in cash to acquire Arieso and gain its expertise in location-aware software solutions, small cell siting and network optimization.

Arieso's study found that LTE users are 10 times more data hungry than 3G users, of whom 1 percent still consume half of the 3G downlink data. That was the figure Arieso cited in 2011 for 3G data consumption, or hogging. In 2012, Arieso reported that the hungriest 1 percent of all 3G subscribers consumed 40 percent of the 3G downlink data volume.

"The faster the speeds that mobile operators provide, the more consumers swallow it up and demand more," Michael Flanagan, CTO of mobility for the network and service enablement business segment of JDSU, and author of the study, said in a statement. "One would expect a honeymoon period in which early adopters test their toys. But for 4G users to consistently exhibit behavior 10 times more extreme than 3G users well after launch constitutes a seismic shift in the data landscape. This has important ramifications for future network designs."

The new study measured the data consumed by more than 1 million people over a single 24-hour weekday in a developed market, and the same number over the same period of time in a developing market, according to CNET. Around 1,500 different mobile devices were covered in the study, with the focus on devices owned by at least 1,000 people.

Flanagan said the fact that 0.1 percent of LTE users are consuming more than half of all LTE data may prompt operators to identify "extreme users," and may also make it easier to deploy small cell and Wi-Fi access points to ease network congestion.

"This is likely part of an overall trend towards the 'personal' wireless network. Just as femtocells were placed in homes to satisfy network coverage objectives on a subscriber-by-subscriber basis, small cells and Wi-Fi access points may be placed to satisfy network capacity objectives on a subscriber-by-subscriber basis," he said.

The report also found that users of the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 5s are the hungriest data users worldwide. Arieso found that iPhone 5s users were using seven times as much data as benchmark iPhone 3G users in developed markets (a 20 percent increase over the iPhone 5) and 20 times as much data in developing markets (a 50 percent increase over the iPhone 5). Beyond the 5s, Apple products account for six of the top 10 "hungriest handsets," the study found, along with two Samsung products, one HTC product and one Sony product.

For more:
- see this release
- see this CNET article

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