March Cellular Data Usage Surges in the U.S. Amid COVID-19 Spread, According to NPD

Additionally, more mobile users are taking advantage of hotspot connectivity as carriers open allowances

Port Washington, NY, May 26, 2020 – According to the latest Mobile Data Consumption Report from NPD Connected Intelligence, cellular data consumption on smartphones in March 2020 was up by 75% year-over-year and 27% month-over-month. This increase in usage was driven primarily by increased time spent on social media applications, using video conferencing platforms, and viewing content via OTT video apps.

These trends coincide with an increase in consumers’ use of the mobile hotspot tethering feature on their smartphones. According to NPD, adoption rate of mobile hotspot usage hit a record 30 percent, up 25 percent year-over-year[1].

“There’s no doubt that mobile phones have been indispensable as most Americans find themselves under shelter-at-home mandates. For many, their phones provide a connection to the outside world – a lifeline so many are yearning for,” stated Brad Akyuz, executive director, industry analyst, NPD Connected Intelligence.

“As the networks become increasingly stretched, we’re seeing more Americans utilize mobile hotspots for additional connectivity. Add into the mix that carriers have opened up more hotspot allowances, and we expect the numbers of people adopting hotspot usage on their devices to increase even more in the coming months.”

Video continues to be main driver of data consumption on smartphones, accounting for over 70% of the total data traffic (cellular and Wi-Fi combined). As people are spending more time at home, and – thus – in front of screens, NPD data from the Q1 2020 Data Consumption Report also revealed a noticeable correlation between the size of mobile phone screens and increased usage of video consumption. Users of smartphones with a screen size of 5.5-inches or larger consume 53% more data compared to those users on smartphones with screen sizes of between 4.5- and 5.5-inches.                                                                                                            

“Americans have more time to spend on their phones, trying to pass time at home or even standing in lines at grocery stores and wholesale retailers, watching engaging video content from any number of platforms that safely allows for social distancing,” added Akyuz.


[1] Feb. 2020 vs. Feb. 2019


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