In 2009, AT&T’s network issues may have led some to conclude that its network was carrying the most data traffic. But according to ABI Research, Verizon Wireless carried the most, followed by Sprint. Customers of these two operators generated 63% of the US market’s mobile network data traffic.
Says practice director, Dan Shey, “Interestingly AT&T had the most activated data devices in 2009. But it is laptop mobile data connections that have the most impact on operator data traffic levels. Mobile broadband laptop connections to Verizon and Sprint each far exceed AT&T’s laptop connections.”
A high proportion of Sprint’s and Verizon’s laptop connections are to lower data-consuming business customers, as well as expansive 3G coverage areas, which helps moderate their network traffic loads across any cell sector.
Verizon will maintain the top data traffic position over the next five years. AT&T’s share of mobile data traffic will increase and by 2012 AT&T will take the number two position. The final three spots for top mobile data traffic levels will be held by Sprint, T-Mobile and then all other operators. However, even though operator traffic distribution share will change, nearly all operators will see mobile data traffic levels increase eightfold from 2010 through 2014.
Shey quips that operators can glean two different messages from these results. “Verizon Wireless and Sprint can claim that data network coverage is as important as data network speed. But AT&T can claim that it makes the most money per MB!”
ABI Research’s “US Mobile Operator Traffic Profiles: Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile” (http://www.abiresearch.com/research/1005286) provides a step-by-step quantification of the factors creating mobile network data traffic for each operator through 2014. Factors quantified by operator include total data devices, total data devices with activated data plans, and total data traffic consumed by device type. Traffic distribution is also provided by device category and by operator for the consumer and business segments. Analysis includes traffic adjustment for operator 3G and 4G network deployments. The report