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YouTube dominates mobile Internet traffic; mobile VoIP on the rise

DPI vendor Allot’s new mobile traffic study finds both video and VoIP are increasingly dramatically over the mobile network, one costing carriers capacity and the other costing them revenue

Mobile data traffic increased an astounding 72% in the latter half of 2009 as video streaming continued to slice bigger and bigger pieces out of the capacity pie, according to Allot Communication’s (NASDAQ:ALLT) Mobile Trends report. YouTube alone accounted for 10% of all worldwide data consumption. Meanwhile VoIP traffic grew 44%, making little impact in the amount of capacity consumed but taking a sizable out of carriers’ voice revenues.

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“VoIP traffic pales in comparison to video but it’s very significant to operators because they view it as lost revenue,” said Jonathan Gordon, director of marketing for Allot, a deep packet inspection (DPI) vendor that compiles a semi-annual report from its global install base.

VoIP accounted for 3% of all call traffic on the mobile network, and that percentage includes calls made over 3G connections, not devices reverting to WiFi. The overall percentage of minutes being placed over a VoIP connection from a mobile device is much higher. Much of the streaming video increase is attributable to the increasing number of laptops connected through 3G, but the rise in VoIP can be blamed on another culprit, Gordon said.

“The trend is weighted to smartphones,” Gordon said. “Every phone you buy is basically a smartphone these days. Some are even shipped with Skype. With the dropping price of mobile broadband these days people are finding it cheaper to use Skype then make calls through their operator.” The increasing downlink and uplink quality of 3G networks from high-speed packet access upgrades have also encouraged the trend, Gordon said. “Skype over a good 3G network is almost as good as Skype over a fixed network,” he said.

Meanwhile peer-to-peer traffic—once the bogeyman of wireless operators—is in decline as far as overall mobile data consumption is concerned. Globally P2P traffic accounts for 19% of all mobile data traffic, while browsing is 27% and streaming has become the big monster, accounting for 29% of all traffic. Still, due to the tremendous resources that P2P consumes on the network it is still remaining a problem for operators. On the average cell, only 12% of traffic is peer-to-peer, while on the most congested cells globally, P2P is the traffic hog consuming 34% of available capacity. “It doesn’t take more than a single peer-to-peer user or anyone using a highly aggressive application to congest a cell,” Gordon said.

Allot wasn’t the only company to release a 3G research study today. Bridgewater Systems commissioned research from Chetan Sharma Consulting that examined how operators can stave off the growing gap between the increase in mobile data demand and the increase in mobile data revenue by cutting operational costs and deploying more efficient technology. The study concluded that operators could slash the cost of delivering mobile broadband by as much as 55% in the next three years. Surprisingly the majority of those cost savings won’t come from deploying more spectrally and operationally efficient technologies like long-term evolution and HSPA+.

Sharma and case studies from Bridgewater, Morgan Stanley and Ovum found that more advanced 3G and 4G technologies would lop only 20% off of the cost of delivering data to customers, which in the US market represent savings as high as $25 billion annually. But mobile data offload technologies such as femtocells and WiFi could further reduce operational costs by 20% to 25%, or as much as $40 million annually by 2013. Policy controls that limit bandwidth for particular applications or charge variable rates for different apps could lop off another 10% in savings, according to the Bridgewater study.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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