Handful of users clog up 70 percent of mobile networks

Only a handful of people clog up a massive 70 percent of mobile phone networks by using unlimited data plans and downloading as much as 50MB a day, according to research by Openwave Systems.

The report discovered a variety of categories of users, with the top end showing extreme usage of 50.4MB a day, with nearly every one of this group possessing an unlimited data plan and a high-end smartphone.

This group of extreme users accounted for three times more data usage than the next highest category, heavy users. The extreme users also accounted for nine times more data than medium users and nearly 70 times more than light users, highlighting a stark difference in how many of us use our mobile phones.

Video on demand was one of the primary causes for network clogging. As more video goes high definition and internet speeds increase many people are streaming video repeatedly instead of downloading it once and re-watching it later, the latter which would not require their phone network.

The other two contributing factors were status updates from social networking sites and mobile search. While both of these involve usually small transfers across the network the sheer volume of them creates extreme pressure on the mobile networks, most of which were not designed to cope with high-end smartphones.

With true 4G networks and compatible phones still a while off for most, extreme data users will continue to clog most of the mobile operators’ networks which Openwave believes is unsustainable for the future.

“The days of all-you-can-eat data plans are becoming less and less feasible for operators on both sides of the Atlantic and it is crucial for operators to become better aligned with network availability and usage needs if they are to stay competitive,” said John Giere, senior vice president of products and marketing at Openwave.