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Global Cost of Mobile Data

Everybody seems to agree that mobile data consumption will keep climbing, despite use of offload mechanisms. Average monthly mobile data usage for a smartphone user in North America today is 8.6 GB and is set to reach 50 GB by the end of 2024, Ericsson believes.

Much could hinge on whether there is any substantial use of augmented reality apps. Just 10 minutes of AR app usage each day could translate to 50 GB per month per user.

Ericsson surveyed mobile consumers across 22 markets including emerging markets, asking them to self-report and predict their increase in mobile data usage.

Consumers self-report an average increase of four times with 5G, resulting in approximately 39 GB per month of mobile data traffic per user on a 5G device. As always–and especially with regard to data consumption–we need to remember that consumers are not very good at estimating their usage.
On average, half of all smartphone users expect their mobile cellular data usage to increase over 5G.

Ericsson researchers think consumers are underestimating their usage, though. Looking at immersive video such as augmented reality and virtual reality, Ericsson estimates the average monthly mobile cellular data traffic per user will grow to 83 GB per month, an increase of 10 times from current usage.

With a 5G device, 20 percent of users could consume 215 GB of data per month in the United States, while in South Korea this could reach 250 GB, and around 140 GB in the United Kingdom.

Average usage of 200 GB per month is easily possible if one were to assume current mobile cellular data usage and add mobile cellular data consumed when using one hour of 360-degree video, one hour of VR on the move, one hour using AR maps and four hours of video streaming at 4K resolution per month.

Global Data Costs (2020)