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Mobile data traffic to grow 59% in 2015: Gartner

Growth driven by app use, particularly video

Mobile data traffic to grow 59% in 2015: Gartner
App use will drive massive growth in mobile data in the coming years, Gartner says.

Mobile data traffic worldwide is set to grow 59% in 2015, according to business intelligence firm Gartner.

GALLERY: Five tips to optimise your mobile data use

Newer and faster networks, a rise in the number of users of the networks, and more affordable 3G and 4G handsets will help to increase data traffic, Gartner said, sharing its findings ahead of Mobile World Congress 2015, to be held on 2 to 5 March in Barcelona.

"The key driver of data growth on a global scale is mobile apps, particularly mobile video apps," said Jessica Ekholm, research director at Gartner. "Although network speed and reliability are priorities for many mobile customers, it is really apps and content that are driving traffic volumes as people increasingly chat to friends and family, watch videos on the move, and listen to streamed music."

Ekholm added that mobile video is generating half of all mobile data and Gartner projects video streaming to account for over 60% of mobile data traffic in 2018, as consumers increase the number of videos they watch and upload.

Although Gartner expects 4G service prices to fall to 3G levels to make them more affordable, the company predicts that 3G networks will continue to fuel worldwide data growth during the next five years.

"We predict that, in 2018, half of North American mobile connections will use 4G networks, but in the Middle East and Africa 4G users will amount to only 3.5% of the region's total," said Ekholm. "We expect 3G connections to grow by 45.7% globally in 2015. This double-digit growth shows the longevity and importance of 3G networks."

Ekholm also noted the growth in the number of users of video-calling services.

GALLERY: Five tips to optimise your mobile data use

"In terms of traffic, five minutes of 3G FaceTime video calling uses up to 15MB of data, a small amount," she said. "However, as there are many users, the collective total amount can be large. In addition, mobile music streaming can easily generate hundreds of megabytes of data, but this varies greatly between mobile music apps. For example, a user actively listening to music on Spotify may consume more than twice as much data as a user of Pandora."

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