Just a few users are responsible for 70% of traffic on a top-tier European mobile carrier, a traffic analyst has found.
Nearly every case of extreme usage involved an unlimited data plan and a high-end smartphone that was consuming an average of 50.4Mbytes of data per day, Openwave System found after studying the traffic patterns at the unnamed operator.
The extreme users generated nearly three times more data than heavy users, almost nine times more data than medium users and nearly 70 times more than light users, it said in a statement.
Openwave found that just three sites made 10% of all data on the network. The remaining 90% was generated from the long tail of 771 sites.
The high traffic volumes from those few sites was mainly video on demand, status updates from social networking sites, and mobile search.
Openwave senior vice-president John Giere said that without mediation, the enhanced video capabilities of high-end devices (preconfigured access to HD content, for example) will clog existing mobile networks.
"The days of all-you-can-eat data plans are becoming less and less feasible for operators," he said. "It is crucial for operators to become better aligned with network availability and usage needs if they are to stay competitive."
Giere said extreme users placed a huge demand on network resources, which resulted in increased costs and an often slower internet experience for other users. Operators would have to introduce tiered pricing plans and "traffic shaping" to stop the bandwidth hogs, he said.
Operators could use Analytics to identify customers and URLs that cause network congestion and apply network policies to effectively manage the data generated from those sites during peak traffic times, he said.
The study also revealed differences in usage between smartphones and featurephones. Smartphone users visited more categories such as e-commerce and sport sites, but their portal content consumption was 17% lower.