It stands to reason consumers with a limited-data plan attached to their mobile phone line would be more inclined to use Wi-Fi connections where and when possible. Which is exactly what is now being highlighted with the latest data from NPD where cellular data usage was 67-percent higher in 2017 with unlimited data plan users, than limited-data plan users. The findings come as part of the ‘NPD Group Connected Intelligence Smartphone and Tablet Usage report’ which looks to highlight various smartphone data usage trends in the US during the year. The information is based on individual data collected from more than 2,500 smartphone devices, including data plan information from more than half of those 2,500 cases.
The report highlights that limited-plan users consumed 8-percent more Wi-Fi compared to unlimited data users over the last three months while also noting how in October the figure spiked to an 18-percent difference. Generally speaking, the report explains 31.4GB of data was typically used each month by smartphone owners in the US. Something NPD states is representative of a 25-percent increase year-over-year with the previous monthly data consumption total said to be around 25.2 GB. While 31GB may sound like a lot on an individual basis, this figure is relevant to the total data consumed by a smartphone owner – inclusive of both data used on Wi-Fi and a cellular connection. NPD attributes the increase in 2017 to a more general increase in the use of greater data-demanding services and features such as video and music streaming, as well as increased usage of social media apps and services. Although the findings do seem to point to video streaming as the single biggest contributor to spent data with NPD suggesting 83-percent of all data used by smartphones owners in 2017 was for video.
While some of this might seem obvious, the conclusions from the report do look to point out this is something US carriers will have to take account of going forward. As not only does the report highlight how limited-plan users tend to opt towards Wi-Fi usage where available, but also how unlimited data users tend to be less inclined to switch to Wi-Fi at all and even when using heavier data-demanding services and features, such as video. In other words, switching to unlimited does not only afford consumers the option to consume more cellular data, but may actually encourage them to. An aspect which is likely to further increase as even more customers make the switch from a limited-data plan to an unlimited plan and placing an even greater strain on the network capabilities of the carriers. On a side note, the report also suggests iOS users in general were more likely to use cellular data than Android users – who according to the numbers were more inclined to switch between cellular and Wi-Fi connections.