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Out-of-home data use is rapidly increasing and 4G is a major factor

26th November 2014

The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG), a government advisory firm, recently published a report on out-of-home internet use where it was revealed that approximately 35.6 petabytes of data are consumed by the UK public every month when out-of-home.

That might sound like a staggering number but it’s actually only 5% of the total data use in the UK, with around 650 petabytes consumed by residential broadband every month.

However despite only accounting for 5% of overall data use, out-of-home data use has actually grown by 39% in 2012-2013 and most of that is 3G and 4G rather than mobile Wi-Fi. It’s also predicted that with the continued popularity of 4G we’re likely to see an extended surge in out-of-home data use.

Note that data use doesn’t direct relate to how much time people spend online though, as some content types use more data than others and whether through mobile or broadband the main thing eating data is video content, as it accounts for 54% of fixed and 43% of mobile traffic.

There are some obvious reasons why it’s lower on mobile, screen sizes are smaller for one, making videos less ideal, while data limits will make users more careful about what they’re doing and indeed these are two things which the report believes stand in the way of an even more rapid rise in 4G and other out-of-home data use.

The report also identifies battery life as a limiting factor, along with bandwidth constraints and the variability of mobile networks, while public Wi-Fi is often a chore to access due to requirements to log in.

Some of these issues, such as data limits and login pages will hopefully be overcome in the near future, but things like the battery life of mobile devices are likely to be a problem for a long time yet.

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