5 Mobile Apps That Bust Data Caps

New AT&T customers will be paying per megabyte of data; here are the apps that could push them over their monthly limit

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

June 2, 2010

3 Min Read
5 Mobile Apps That Bust Data Caps

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)’s new mobile data usage price plans will make smartphone packages more affordable for some people, but for other app-loving users, they could wreak havoc on their wireless bills. (See AT&T Intros Mobile Data Caps and AT&T Unveils Mobile Data Plans.)

Introducing its new metered plans, AT&T offered a scenario for what you can do with 2 gigabytes of data, its higher-end plan, in a month -- send or receive 1,500 emails with attachments and 10,000 without, view 4,000 Web pages, post 500 photos to social media sites, and watch 200 minutes of streaming video. But the reality might not be that clear cut. Not all apps are created equal, after all. (See AT&T Intros Mobile Data Caps.)

This does not, of course, apply to app usage over WiFi, but if an AT&T consumer is using her 3G network, what she actually gets from 2GB of data could be a different story. Patrick Lopez, chief marketing officer of mobile video optimization provider Vantrix Corp. , says most users will get to that cap within the first two to three weeks of their monthly subscription.

"That’s from regular usage, let’s say two to three videos per week," Lopez says. "Not every day, but every other day or so watching a video -- not even necessarily a full-length video, but going to YouTube every other day will use those 2GB very quickly."

Here are five top data hogs that could bust through the roof of your data caps.

  • YouTube Inc. : Or really, any video at all. According to Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), video will overtake peer-to-peer traffic for the first time by the end of this year. By 2014, video will hit 767 exabytes, or more than three-quarters of a zettabyte, of data usage. So, it doesn’t matter what app you are using, if it has video involved, you’re at risk -- which certainly makes the prospect of a Hulu LLC mobile app a little less enticing. (See Cisco: Video Traffic Set to Dominate Internet.)

    It’s really video, more so than any other possible app that’s driving data usage, says Vantrix's Lopez. YouTube’s mobile Website alone accounts for more than 50 percent of video traffic, but mobile users are also starting to watch full-length movies and mobile video for extensive periods of time. Viewing sessions will only continue to increase in time, he warns.

  • Knocking Live: This peer-to-peer live streaming video app has already surpassed 1 million users. The app lets users share cool videos with their friends of, say, an iPhone in flight, but it also causes data traffic to skyrocket.

  • ABC Inc. TV: The app, which supports 3G streaming, has proven popular on the iPad. But, if it only takes a few YouTube videos to max out, ABC's focus on streaming high-quality videos and longer-form content could put you over the top in one day alone. (See ABC Finds Success on iPad.)

  • Pandora Media Inc. : AT&T’s handy Data Calculator shows music streaming to be a significant source of data consumption, so any streaming music app will cost you.

  • Wired: On the iPad, Wired's magazine app is pretty slick, but it also requires a 500MB download, more than 100 times larger than the average song downloaded from iTunes. Simply downloading this app will be more than enough to exceed the 250MB minimum monthly data plan for the iPad. (See International Sales Push iPad Over 2M Mark.)

    — Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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