Unlimited Data Plan Users Consume 67% More Cellular Data

by | 2 minute read

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 user.

Con­sumers might be con­sid­er­ing switch­ing providers for the best unlim­it­ed plans. The new Audi­enceS­CAN sur­vey showed 13% of Amer­i­cans would like to switch to dif­fer­ent mobile/wireless providers this year.

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.”

Inter­net ban­ner ads can reach Poten­tial Mobile/Wireless Net­work Switch­ers who are research­ing the best data plans. The lat­est Audi­enceS­CAN study found 35% of switch­ers took action after see­ing ban­ner ads in the past month.

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.

Audi­enceS­CAN data is avail­able as part of a sub­scrip­tion to AdMall for Agen­cies, or with the Sales­Fu­el API. Media com­pa­nies can access Audi­enceS­CAN data through the Audi­enceS­CAN Reports in AdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Court­ney is the Edi­tor for Sales­Fu­el Today. She ana­lyzes sec­ondary cus­tomer research and our pri­ma­ry Audi­enceS­CAN research. Court­ney is a grad­u­ate of Mid­dle Ten­nessee State Uni­ver­si­ty.