A forthcoming study by Validas shows 53 percent of all cellphone subscribers are data users, up from 42 percent last year. The average data usage per subscriber is now 145.8MB a month compared with 96.8MB a month last year. Most of that is simply the result of more data users, though it does suggest those with data capabilities are using slightly more each month.
There’s a lot of attention paid to AT&T’s iPhone data plans, particularly the withdrawal of unlimited plans, but it turns out that the device doesn’t rack up the most data use on average. Instead Verizon’s users have the higher average data use. The study shows the average Verizon smartphone owner uses 428MB a month, compared with 338MB for the iPhone.
Validas also found that Verizon customers were roughly twice as likely than iPhone users to cross either the 500MB or 2GB barriers each month.
It also noted that across all customers, AT&T has an average of 149.6MB a month, compared with 147.2MB for Verizon, 133.4MB for Sprint and 120.6MB for T-Mobile. That’s somewhat misleading as those figures include users who don’t have any data use (normally because of the type of handset), a proportion which is significantly higher with Verizon (57.1 percent) than AT&T (28.8 percent).
One potential note of caution is that Validas is a company which analyzes phone bills for customers and advises them if they have been billed incorrectly or if they could get a better deal elsewhere. The data used in the study comes from customer bills, which means it is based on customers who take a particularly keen interest in their spending. That may bias the results towards people who use more data than the general public (and thus have higher bills to query), though it shouldn’t favor or penalize any particular network.