Something new has happened in the consumer Internet bandwidth consumption business: tablets and smartphones now are changing end user consumption requirements.
Home Internet broadband access networks now support tablets and smartphones, not just PCs and game consoles.
The increase in the number of devices using home networks is one reason why “median monthly usage” (half of consumers use more, half use less) on North America’s fixed access networks has increased from 10.3 GB to 16.8 GB in the second half of 2012.
Over the same period, “mean monthly usage” (arithmetic average) grew by over 70 percent, increasing to 51.3 GB from 32.1 GB. Growing subscriber consumption is not limited to North America or fixed networks, either.
Relatively slow growth of mobile data consumption is likely a direct result of the shift to offloading of mobile data demand to the fixed network.
In North America, monthly usage on mobile networks has experienced only minor growth, Sandvine (News - Alert) says. In the second half of 2012, Sandvine has observed mean monthly usage increasing moderately from 312.8 MB to 317.2 MB.
More noticeable change can be seen in the median, which has increased to 32.9 MB from 25.5MB just six months ago. But it is also possible that new smartphone consumers account for some of the slower growth of mobile data, as newer users tend to consume less data than experienced users.
One thing hasn’t changed: on the fixed networks and mobile networks, a small percentage of users consume a disproportionate share of total data. About 10 percent of users consume about half of all Internet bandwidth, according to the latest study by Sandvine.
In North America, the heaviest users, representing 1 percent of subscribers, account for 38.6 percent of total upstream traffic. The 1 percent of users who consume the most downstream bandwidth account for 12.8 percent of downstream bytes.
At the same time, the network’s lightest 50 percent of users account for only 5.2 percent of total monthly traffic, Sandvine says.
As always, when looking at bandwidth consumption, there is a huge difference between arithmetic “mean” usage (average) and the mid-point, where half of users consume more, and half consume less.
As you would guess, consumption of entertainment video and audio remains the largest traffic category on virtually every network examined. North America continues to lead in adoption of this traffic category, with almost two-thirds of downstream traffic during peak period being streaming audio or video.
Netflix now accounts for 33 percent of peak period downstream traffic, Sandvine notes.
Mobile data consumption increased only slightly, very likely a direct consequence of people using at-home Wi-Fi. From a traffic distribution standpoint, the top 1 percent of mobile data subscribers account for 23.9 percent of total upstream traffic.
The top 1 percent of downstream users account for 18.7 percent of bandwidth consumption.
The mobile network’s lightest 50 percent of users account for only 0.8 percent of total traffic.
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Edited by Braden Becker