Feature Article

February 15, 2012

AT&T Mobile Bandwidth Consumption Doubled in 2011

AT&T Senior Executive VP John Donovan says mobile data volume doubled from 2010 to 2011, a trend that has been in place since 2007. The growth rate amounts to a 20,000 percent change over that period, Donovan says.

The reason that is important is that some observers have suggested that the rate of mobile data consumption had slowed unexpectedly in 2011.

It appears as though those statements were mistaken, and that the long-term trend remains intact.

In a March 2011 presentation, for example, AT&T projected that mobile data volumes would grow by eight to 10 times between the end of 2010 and the end of 2015.

That forecast appears to be based on an expectation that volumes would roughly double in 2011 and then increase by a further 65 percent in 2012.

Some have suggested that 2011 mobile data growth was only about 40 percent annually. To be sure, 40 percent annual growth is significant.

It means bandwidth consumption doubles about every two to three years. The AT&T forecast of 40 percent annual growth would mean that data volumes would increase by five to six times by 2015, not the eight to 10 times the company had suggested in early 2011.

But Donovan’s remarks suggest mobile data consumption actually has doubled, as AT&T originally expected. Those figures suggest efforts to improve network efficiency, acquire more spectrum, offload traffic, build fourth generation networks and create new incentives for users to manage their data consumption and create new revenue streams remain important.

If demand doubles in the next four years, or even five years, major new amounts of spectrum and network assets will be required, despite the claims in some quarters that AT&T really does not need more spectrum.

Gary Kim is a contributing editor for MobilityTechzone. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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