Video Pushing Mobile Broadband Use

Mobile data bandwidth use is up 30% worldwide during the second quarter, with increased video streaming on cell phones helping to drive growth, according to a new report.

People tuning into shows and clips on sites such as Hulu, YouTube and MySpace via mobile devices pushed up video streaming nearly 60% during the quarter, mainly as a result of expanded smartphone use and a growing selection of mobile programming. "It's outgrowing any other application," said Jonathon Gordon, director of marketing for Boston-based Allot Communications, a broadband-related service provider that conducted the study.

Overall, HTML, or full Web browsing, accounted for the largest share of traffic worldwide at 32%, P2P file-sharing, 22%; streaming, 21%; HTML downloads, 19%; and other applications, 6%. In the Americas, mobile browsing generated 37% of traffic because of broader use of smartphones, and especially the iPhone in the U.S.

Data from mobile ad network has shown the iPhone alone accounts for half of U.S. mobile traffic, and Apple itself recently estimated the proportion at 65%.

Globally, however, Asia led the way in mobile broadband use with a 36% increase in mobile broadband use, followed by Europe at 28% and the Americas at 25%.

The growing appetite for mobile data isn't all good news for network operators, though. The Allot study says mobile users are coming to expect the same level of Internet service on their phones as PCs.

"By extension, today's mobile operators face the same challenges as their wireline counterparts, but with more technological limitations," states the report. "All of these problems are exacerbated by the network infrastructure where the cells themselves can serve as natural bandwidth bottlenecks, often greatly contributing to network congestion and delay."

A separate study released Monday by researchers at Norman Nielsen Group underscored the problems of using the mobile Web, comparing it to primitive state of the wired Internet 15 years ago. It called "mobile usability" an oxymoron.

Allot's Gordon said network operators are having a hard time keeping up with the rapid rise in mobile broadband activity. "Twelve months ago when we said 'data' we were talking about SMS (text messaging), but now the mobile operators have a lot more traffic to deal with," he said.

Allot based its findings on traffic data collected from mobile operators worldwide with a combined base of more than 150 million subscribers.

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