America’s Q4 2016 Carrier Customer Data Use Analyzed

FierceWireless and P3 have formed a partnership, including Strategy Analytics, and able to determine where America’s four big national carrier customers are using their data. The information gleaned is detailed enough to determine over what network type and on what application or service. P3 is a “global consulting, management and engineering services company” and it collects smartphone use data from over 2,300 smartphone devices; this collected data has been merged with Strategic Analytics’ AppOptix service and the results show where customers of a particular network are using data, both over a cellular data network and Wi-Fi. A report has just been published detailing the fourth quarter 2016 smartphone data use, and there are a number of interesting trends the research partnership has determined. The first trend is that for customers of AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile US, there was a significant switch to using applications over cellular data rather than a Wi-Fi network. Verizon Wireless is the odd one out here; for the other three carriers, users used more data over their cellular connection than Wi-Fi. The biggest change here is with Sprint, which might be because America’s smallest national carrier has introduced unlimited data plans and customers feel free to use their devices more when away from a Wi-Fi network.

As for the particular applications that use the most data, here the top two app is Facebook, with YouTube following up. Other applications using high amounts of data include Netflix, Hulu and the Google Chrome browser. Still, no other application comes close to Facebook: Americans are addicted to this application and regardless of connection type, too. The survey notes that Sprint customers are using Netflix much more than they used to, which lends weight to the belief that Sprint’s new unlimited plans are encouraging customers to use cellular data. Verizon customers being more frugal with data use could suggest that the carrier’s more restrictive data plans are encouraging customers to use less data. The research is able to dive deeper into user demographics, and their results show that younger customers are using more data, either over a cellular data network or Wi-Fi. Customers in the under 25 and under age range have Wi-Fi that is “especially high” compared with older customers.

With the changes in smartphone use being tracked over the quarters, it’s would be interesting to see how changes in carrier plans have impacted how customers use their smartphone. It would also be interesting to be able to track how many customers have changed their data allowance in order to use their device more when they are away from the comfort of their home Wi-Fi network.

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About the Author

David Steele

Senior Staff Writer
I grew up with 8-bit computers and moved into PDAs in my professional life, using a number of devices from early Windows CE clamshells and later. Today, my main devices are a Nexus 5X, a Sony Xperia Z Tablet and a coffee cup.
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