Unlimited Data Plan Users Consume 67% More Cellular Data

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.