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The Gigabyte Era: America’s Role as the Leading Mobile Data Consumer

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Between 2012 and 2013, mobile users around the world nearly doubled their mobile data consumption. That says a lot about where technology is trending—it is now the Gigabyte Era. People can’t live without their smartphones because they love having instant access to information on the go. Mobile data is used for everything from checking email and surfing the Internet to using GPS and other smartphone applications. America is leading the way in terms of mobile data usage. Let’s take a look at its role in the Gigabyte Era.

Mobile Data Usage Statistics

Average monthly data usage per user is well over 1 GB per month in the United States and many other developed countries around the world. According to Gigaom.com, the average mobile subscriber in the U.S. consumes 1.38 GBs per month. The only country with a higher average data consumption rate than the U.S. is Japan with 1.87 GBs per month. South Korea is high on the list, too, with 1.25 GBs per month for the average user.

According to Cisco, the world used 1.5 exabytes of data in 2012. An exabyte equals one billion gigabytes. Experts say that number should grow to 15.9 exabytes by the end of 2018. Additionally, there will be more mobile-connected devices by the end of 2014 than the world’s population. In other words, mobile data usage is growing at an astonishing rate in the U.S. and around the world.

How Do People Use Mobile Data?

People use mobile data to surf the Internet, check email, send instant messages, use applications, connect to their GPS, and so much more. However, watching videos is one activity that uses the biggest amount of data. Cisco claims that video traffic accounts for 53 percent of all mobile data usage. This is not surprising since people use their tablets and other mobile devices to stream videos on Netflix and Hulu, as well as watch videos on YouTube and other video streaming services.

Mobile data is delivered through a cellular network where users have to pay for the amount of data that they use. Wi-Fi data is delivered through a private Internet connection. Often, people can find free Wi-Fi connections in their community. However, people tend to lean toward data from a cellular network because it can be accessed from anywhere. Wi-Fi connections are more sporadic and can be hard to find in some communities. However, mobile data usage will probably decline as Wi-Fi connections become more widely available. This is because Wi-Fi is faster than mobile data. Of course, it will be 5+ years before we see a decline in mobile data usage.

Reasons People Are Using More Mobile Data

One of the biggest reasons mobile data usage is on the rise in the U.S. is that the cost of mobile devices is on the decline. Of course, smartphones are not the only reason data consumption has increased. Tablets also play a major role. According to IDC.com, worldwide tablet sales in the U.S. have surged an amazing 142 percent from 2012 to 2013. There are dozens of different tablets to choose from with offerings from most major technology companies, including Microsoft, Google, and Apple. Additionally, most major cellphone carriers offer data plans for tablets, which increases overall data usage.

Because of this technology, consumers are able to run more of their day to day lives over mobile data. For example, the majority of mobile devices have the ability to be synced with email services, placing everything at the world’s fingertips. Many companies are even finding the benefits of using mobility to run their businesses, which furthers the increase in mobile data usage.

The U.S., Japan, and South Korea were also the first to launch LTE networks across a wide area. This is another big reason why mobile data usage has increased. With a 3G, and even a 4G connection, getting information was not instant. Users had to wait upwards of 30 seconds for a webpage to load on a mobile device. The LTE network makes access to information faster than ever before. Some users report that it takes less than 10 seconds to load a webpage on top android mobile phones using the LTE network.

As you can see, the trend of using mobile data is not going to decrease in the U.S.—the Gigabyte Era is in full swing. Developed countries around the world are also following the trend. People simply can’t get enough of their smartphones and tablets.

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About the Author

Hailey is a recent graduate with a degree in Journalism. Now that she isn't face first in books she is trying to travel as much as she can. She writes in her free time between fixing up her new house and teaching people how to live a longer, healthier life.

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