(Image from Sync-Blog)
While thousands show up to protest the 1% of Americans who earn roughly 17% of the nation's income, another kind of 1% is said to control a whopping 50% of the world's mobile bandwidth. We're talking, of course, about certain smartphone and laptop users who take more than their fair share of mobile data. But is the New York Times' cover story about them accurate or is the paper being shamelessly sensationalistic?
Taking a step back, here are the facts: the most exteme mobile users, or 3% of the wireless population, consumed 40% of the network traffic in 2009 according to the firm Arieso. Today that number is more like 70%. So, basically, the heaviest data users have been using more data than ever.
Much of this data is used to watch videos, followed by surfing the web, e-mailing, social networking, file sharing and software downloading. But the data doesn't just cover smartphone users but also those using mobile internet on their laptops. Of the most extreme users, smartphone users took up a third of the pie.
The data also suggested that heavy Finn users were among the most data-hungry. About 35% of Finns use mobile laptop modems and one operator offers unlimited plans for as little as 5 euros a month. As a result, the Finns consume on average 1 gigabyte of wireless data a month over an operator's network; 10 times the European average.
So, the next time you complain about carriers slashing their unlimited plans, consider this: heavy users bring stress on the network, which can effect upload and download rates for all of us. Capping their data prevents undue stress from occuring across the entire network.
So, for now, tiered data plans may be a necessary evil.