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AT&T May Be Right: Smartphone Customers Underuse Mobile Web

Mobile Data Usage
An uproar ensued when AT&T discontinued its unlimited data plan last month, and the company defended itself by arguing that 98-percent of its customers never used more than the 2GB allotted by the DataPro plan. Turns out, AT&T might even have been understating its case against the unlimited plan if the numbers from a new Nielsen study are to be believed.

Nielsen has been tracking the mobile data usage of some 60,000 smartphone-owning customers for the past year, and, though the average amount of data used has skyrocketed (by almost 230-percent since the same time last year), most customers come nowhere near the 2GB limit imposed by AT&T. Average monthly data use was up to 298MB per month in early 2010, but 99-percent still registered under 2GB. In fact, the top 6-percent of users accounted for over 50-percent of data used, while a full 25-percent of smartphone owners used no data at all. That's roughly 20 million American smartphone owners treating their fancy handsets like a common RAZR. A true crime if you ask us.

If there are so many smartphone owners out there under-utilizing their network's data capabilities, what will happen to some struggling carriers (like the aforementioned AT&T) if mobile data consumption increases at the same rate over the next year? We expect the next 12 months to reveal which carriers are prepared for the data crunch that, with the increasing popularity of smartphones, is most certainly coming. [From: Nielsen, via: The New York Times]

Tags: att, cellphones, data usage, DataPlan, DataPlans, DataUsage, mobile, mobile web, MobileWeb, Nielsen, smartphone, smartphones, study, top