Unlimited Data Plan Users Consume 67 Percent More Cellular Data Than Users on Limited Plans Consume

Users on limited data plans rely on Wi-Fi more than unlimited users, according to NPD Connected Intelligence

Port Washington, NY, December 27, 2017 – According to the latest NPD Group Connected Intelligence Smartphone and Tablet Usage report, cellular data usage among consumers with unlimited plans is 67 percent higher than those with limited plans. Limited plan users instead rely more on Wi-Fi access. Over the last three months, limited plan users consumed eight percent more than their unlimited plan counterparts, with a spike of 18 percent more Wi-Fi usage in October. When looking at data and Wi-Fi consumption as it relates to a user’s smartphone operating system, iOS users tend to consume more cellular data, while Android users look to Wi-Fi.

Cellular data and Wi-Fi consumption have been on the rise, as smartphone users increasingly access video content, social media apps, music and more. In fact, the average U.S. smartphone user consumes a total of 31.4 GB of data on a monthly basis (including Wi-Fi and cellular consumption). This is up 25 percent from one year prior, when the total monthly data consumption averaged 25.2 GB per user1.

“Unlimited data plans have become the de facto offering in the market and the significant variance between consumption levels of unlimited plan and limited plan users can be alarming for mobile carriers, as networks become increasingly congested,” said Brad Akyuz, director, industry analyst for NPD’s Connected Intelligence. “When users migrate from limited plans to unlimited plans, their consumption behavior shifts in favor of using cellular data more regularly. Users on unlimited plans don’t regularly seek Wi-Fi connectivity for data-hungry transactions such as video streaming, application updates, and downloads as they are not concerned about data overage fees.”

Streaming video remains the number one driver of cellular and Wi-Fi data consumption on mobile and fixed networks, accounting for 83 percent of the total data used by smartphone owners.  In Q3 2017, 67 percent of all smartphone users reported accessing video content via an app at least once a month, up from 57 percent in Q2 2017. 

1NPD Connected Intelligence Data Consumption Report, October 2017 vs. October 2016 

Methodology
The NPD Group Connected Intelligence Smartphone and Tablet Usage report provides a quarterly view of consumer smartphone and tablet behavior (Q3 2017). The report leverages an on-device and VPN-based metering solution ("Smart Meter") to provide a view of actual application and data consumption, allowing customers to view usage across a number of different metrics. This ongoing tracking was implemented between July 1, 2017 and September 30, 2017. More than 2,500 consumers with Android and iOS devices opt-in to the SmartMeter panel and are continuously tracked through an app on their devices. Of these consumers, over 50 percent share their data plan information. 

About Connected Intelligence
Connected Intelligence provides competitive intelligence and insight on the rapidly evolving consumer’s connected environment. The service focuses on the three core components of the connected market: the device, the broadband access that provides the connectivity and the content that drives consumer behavior. These three pillars of the connected ecosystem are analyzed through a comprehensive review of what is available, adopted, and consumed by the customer, as well as reviewing how the market will evolve over time and what the various vendors can do to best position themselves in this evolving market. For more information: http://www.connected-intelligence.com.


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megan.scott@npd.com

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