The Rise of the Gigabyte Phone

34 thoughts on “The Rise of the Gigabyte Phone”

  1. How many wired US households today are gigabyte data per month homes?

    Clearly services like Netflix Streaming have probably pushed a number of homes over the edge and pushed up the average bandwidth per home, but just curious on how many homes and what percentage of homes consume more than a gigabyte of bandwidth per month today.

    1. Im currently using around 35 gigabytes per month on my home broadband connection, but we’re a very data-intensive house, with 3 laptops, 3 desktops, 3 new Apple TVs, an iPad, 2 iPhones and we do a lot of video calling too.

      Thankfully they haven’t imposed metered broadband here in the UK yet – atleast not with my broadband company – so we’re not paying the price for all that data use….. YET!

      1. Good link to the report.

        I see the average, but looking further down in the report to the section on Top User Analysis, you see numbers such as the top 1% of connections consumed 20% of the bandwidth and the top 10% consumed 60 percent. These top end users skew those averages.

        Which still leaves me with the question of how many and what percentages of wired homes consume over 1GB per month?

        @Andrew – looks like your home is probably in that 10% (if not 1%) range.

  2. Om – if you assume that (relatively) cheap mobile broadband continues, then it’s easy to see Gigabyte-level demand emerging. But as you point out, the carriers (with Verizon in the lead) would like nothing more than to convert to metered-pricing. So what’s the supply/demand curve, above which the average mobile broadband consumer will not pay? (I’d guess well below Gigabyte levels with metered pricing).

    1. TimB

      Great question and still not clear as to what is the threshold for what is the top end of pricing for consumers.

      I speak from my own individual point of view: in my view is that most of us are comfortable paying $40 or so for what carriers used to call “unlimited” data aka 5 Gb/month. If you factor in today’s applications and assume growing popularity of mobile video, that might be just enough but anything more means overages.

      I am not seriously worried about my bills just yet (since I have been grandfathered in to unlimited plans), but my biggest worry is that one day I will get hit by a big bill. I think a lot of consumers are going to get a sticker shock as well.

  3. A “700 percent increase in data consumption every month” means 7^12 or 13.8 BILLION times as much data just one year from today. In two years there would be more data flowing monthly to each handset than exists in the world today. Fix your innumeracy, please!

    1. Yeah, that obviously makes no sense. When I see such an annoying lack of attention to detail from a writer I usually, whether consciously or not, think much less of the article at hand.
      More to the point, if the intention was 700% over the entire 5-year period, that doesn’t impress me in the least. If it was meant to be a yearly increase, I think it’s a ridiculous prediction. I just can’t find a way to slice it that makes this prediction useful whatsoever. I hate it when people toss numbers in the air to make it seem like they got something to say, when it’s all pretty meaningless.

      One final note: using a so-called “concept” like a “Gigabyte phone” feels very childish to me. Seriously, it’s just a user (not even the phone, really) that uses over a gigabyte a month. You really can’t leave it at that and gotta call it “the concept of a Gigabyte phone”?

      1. Nadav

        Before you start flinging anger like mud, it would be good to pause and read the sentence twice. I think the same thing can be said two different ways.

        That said, I am not sure your comment is adding anything to the argument.

    2. Marco

      ” that over next five years, there is going to be a staggering 700 percent increase in data consumption every month”

      It means, over five years there is going to be a 700 percent increase in per-month data consumption.

      1. Understood now, but it would be more helpful to rephrase a sentence like this to avoid confusion. Something along the lines of:
        “…in five years’ time, there is going to be a staggering 700 percent increase in monthly data consumption”
        Or even drop the ‘monthly’ altogether, as it is a more or less constant rate that we are talking about, and not a monthly quantity.

  4. Perhaps he mean a 7% monthly increase, which would stack up to 1.07^12 = 2.25. Meaning data traffic to the handset would be a bit more than double a year from now.

  5. The average data number for Android seem really low. T-Mobile tells me I use 200 MB/month on average while working mostly from home and using landlines almost exclusively (weird, eh? F$@*& T-Mobile coverage…).

    3 days of hot-spot sharing in a Chicago hotel room (less kinky than it sounds) brought last month’s data total to 2.3 GB. Worst part was T-Mo reps couldn’t give me a running total, so I had no idea how close I was to the 5 GB soft cap.

    How can the average Android user, who seems to spend most of every day uploading photos with the mobile Facebook app, use just 147 MB/month?

    Yeah, I know that it’s weak to argue from personal experience, but the gap is huge.

  6. I take issue with your characterization that Verizon has a “superior” network. Superior to whom? AT&T has the fastest mobile broadband network, hands down. Additionally, AT&T offers consumers something they can’t get at Verizon, the ability to talk and text/browse at the same time. Verizon’s network can’t offer that – you have to pick one or the other.

    1. Are you a AT&T marketing person? You can split hairs about HSPDA+ and EVDO Rev x – but tell the fine folks of New York and San Francisco (like Om) about AT&T’s superior network and see how long it takes them to stop laughing.

      Simultaneous talk and text isn’t the “must have” feature that Luke Wilson and AT&T want to tell us it is either, but….Sprints’s Wimax/CDMA and Verizon’s (soon) CDMA/LTE will remove that advantage.

      Disclaimer: I’m a Sprint guy – Verizon’s network is good – Sprint’s is comparable, and AT&T is in no position to throw stones at anyone.

      1. I agree with Debra. The article states that …”by end of 2010, Sprint, T-Mobile, MetroPCS and Verizon will have started introducing their WiMAX, HSPA+ and LTE based networks”…. does this imply that AT&T will not? Or is it a convenient omission by the author? Then later to state that Verizon has a superior network…..suspicious reporting there! I believe the question at hand will be once the major carriers upgrade to LTE, and we begin seeing these “gigabyte phones”, will such claims about Verizon even exist? … especially if a Verizon customer gets out of 4G coverage range and down revs to EVDO? What will their expectations be and what will that experience look like?

      2. @CRUSS – “does that imply that AT&T will not?” Mostly, yes. On 9/16 – AT&T’s CEO of Operations, John Starkey, said that AT&T will launch commercial LTE service in mid-2011. He also said they are readying a nationwide HSPA+ upgrade for “later this year”. T-Mobile has already deployed HSPA+, Sprint has already deployed WiMax, and Verizon is not backing off from their “year-end” LTE launch.

  7. T-Mobile in the Netherlands announced last year March that their iPhone customers were consuming on average 640MByte per month. Given the current traffic growth rates for smartphones, I wouldn’t be too surprised if that number is now close to 1 Gigabyte.

  8. The “Gigabyte Phone”?
    What a bogus futuristic-sounding concept.
    The author reveals his own naivety by trying coin this title which is already mute. The reality is, the “Gigabyte Phone” is already here. But your cool “new” title for it is belittling. As a matter of fact the current smart phones that have been on the market for over a year are MULTI-Gigabyte Phones!! I use an HTC Hero Android phone with Sprint and my monthly bill routinely shows that I consume ~15GB of data each month. But there dozens of other phones that can do the same. My peak was ~18GB.
    I stream a lot of internet radio. Please don’t limit us with meager Gigabyte phones.

  9. The “Gigabyte Phone”?
    What a bogus futuristic-sounding concept.
    The author reveals his own naivety by trying coin this title which is already mute. The reality is, the “Gigabyte Phone” is already here. But your cool “new” title for it is belittling. As a matter of fact the current smart phones that have been on the market for over a year are MULTI-Gigabyte Phones!! I use an HTC Hero Android phone with Sprint and my monthly bill routinely shows that I consume ~15GB of data each month. But there dozens of other phones that can do the same. My peak was ~18GB.
    I stream a lot of internet radio. It’s like having my own personal satellite radio. Please don’t limit us with meager Gigabyte phones.

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