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October 5, 2021
ORLANDO, Fla. – Some of T-Mobile's high-end customers are consuming an average of 35 gigabytes of data per month, the operator's top networking executive said Tuesday at an industry event.
"We are seeing incredible growth in 5G data usage," T-Mobile's Neville Ray said here during a virtual keynote presentation at Connect (X), the annual trade show from the Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA). The association represents the nation's cell tower owners and others in the wireless industry.
"Usage is way up," Ray added.
Ray was discussing the average average data usage among customers on T-Mobile's new Magenta Max unlimited data plan, the operator's most expensive unlimited data plan. Earlier this year, T-Mobile updated the plan to remove high-speed usage caps. The operator previously slowed customers' smartphone speeds after they consumed 50GB of data in a monthly billing cycle – now it doesn't slow customers' speeds no matter how much data they consume on their smartphone.
However, T-Mobile's new pricing plan does limit the amount of data that customers can consume via their phone's mobile hotspot function to 40GB per month. AT&T removed its own usage caps shortly after T-Mobile did.
T-Mobile's new Magenta Max usage figures are noteworthy because Ericsson estimates that the average North American mobile user consumed an average of around 11GB of data per month on their smartphone during 2020. The company forecast that number would rise to 48GB of data per month by 2026.
During his keynote appearance, Ray also reiterated many of the data points on Magenta Max that T-Mobile published last month. He said that T-Mobile's Magenta Max customers typically stream 39% more video, use 36% more data for social media and use twice as much mobile hotspot data than other T-Mobile customers.
"Our customers love this plan," Ray said.
He said the plan helps to highlight the reasoning behind T-Mobile's five-year, $60 billion investment into its 5G network. The effort involves building thousands of new cell towers around the country in part to allow T-Mobile to broadcast speedy 5G signals on the 2.5GHz midband spectrum it acquired from Sprint.
T-Mobile reports that over 50% of its Magenta Max customers use a 5G smartphone.
Ultimately, Ray argued that T-Mobile's 5G usage statistics around its Magenta Max plan help to validate the operator's investments into the next-generation technology. At its core, T-Mobile's current 5G strategy involves encouraging its customers to upgrade from less expensive service plans to more expensive service plans. T-Mobile and its rivals are doing so by sweetening pricey unlimited data plans with goodies and perks, including uncapped high-speed data.
But, in his WIA keynote presentation, Ray said that's just a part of T-Mobile's overall 5G strategy. The operator is also planning to use the technology to offer fixed wireless Internet services to homes and offices in a direct challenge to wired Internet service providers. Indeed, T-Mobile this week said it would reduce the price of its fixed wireless service by $10 per month.
Further, Ray said T-Mobile is also working to develop new 5G businesses around connected cars, augmented reality services and other cutting-edge offerings.
Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading
Based in Denver, Mike has covered the wireless industry as a journalist for almost two decades, first at RCR Wireless News and then at FierceWireless and recalls once writing a story about the transition from black and white to color screens on cell phones.
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