iPhone 4S Has a Big Appetite

9:25 AM A smartphone usage study finds that extreme data users are exposed, identifying the iPhone 4S as the data-hungriest device of the lot

Michelle Donegan, Contributing Editor, Light Reading

January 6, 2012

2 Min Read
iPhone 4S Has a Big Appetite

9:25 AM -- Just 1 percent of mobile users consume half of downloaded data on the network, and iPhone 4S users consume more mobile data than users of any other smartphones, according to the latest smartphone usage study from Arieso Ltd. released on Friday.

Sounds like the sort of thing that can keep network operators up at night.

Arieso, a network management software specialist, found that Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s iPhone 4S used three times as much data as the iPhone 3G and twice as much data as the iPhone 4.

The sample for this study comprised more than 1 million customers at a Tier 1 mobile operator in Europe in both urban and suburban environments, and the data was collected over a 24-hour weekday period.

So the study is just a snapshot. But the trend for high-end smartphones like the iPhone 4S to eat up ever more mobile data coupled with a very small percentage of users taking up a large proportion, if not most, of the network capacity, poses a challenge for operators. What's an operator to do to cope with these extreme data users and traffic patterns?

Of course, that's where Arieso comes in. It thinks operators need location-based and subscriber-based traffic analysis so that they can better understand how subscribers use mobile data and how specific devices affect the network, which is just what it provides. The company uses information that operators collect for billing purposes -- like data call setup and breakdown, which remains on operators' premises -- to identify where extreme users are located and how much data they are consuming and when.

Armed with that kind of analysis, an operator could then decide how and where to add more capacity. The operator could, for example, deploy another macrocell in a high-usage area, install microcells or perhaps even offer certain extreme users a femtocell of their own.

While the network implications are always interesting, what's driving the data usage on the iPhone 4S to make it the "hungriest handset" that Arieso CTO Michael Flanagan says he's ever seen?

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

About the Author(s)

Michelle Donegan

Contributing Editor, Light Reading

Michelle Donegan is an independent technology writer who has covered the communications industry on both sides of the Pond for the past twenty years.

Her career began in Chicago in 1993 when Telephony magazine launched an international title, aptly named Global Telephony. Since then, she has upped sticks (as they say) to the UK and has written for various publications, including Communications Week International, Total Telecom, Light Reading, Telecom Titans and more.

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