Tefficient’s 32nd public analysis of the development and drivers of mobile data compares 46 countries – now with Brazil added – from all regions of the world.
In our previous, full year 2020, report we could see that the pandemic drove mobile data usage – contrary to the belief that all that time we spent at home would offload mobile data traffic to Wi-Fi and fixed broadband.
Although the pandemic was still very much present in our daily life, the relaxation of restrictions in the first half of 2021 led to a more normal growth in mobile data usage.
In our latest mobile data usage and revenue analysis, there are 43 countries. Of these, 27 are European. And among these, about half (13) of the regulators are not just reporting the mobile data traffic but also the fixed broadband traffic.
It allows us to compare the two and answer the question “is mobile eating fixed’s lunch?”
This is tefficient’s 19th public analysis of the development and drivers of mobile data.
Mobile data usage is still growing in all of the countries covered by this analysis. But the growth rates are very different and so are the usage levels. Unlimited moves the needle. Finland tops the charts in usage – but it’s India that leads the growth league.
Data-only is a very important driver of usage. Austria is now the clear world leader in fixed-line substitution.
In Korea, the share of data traffic on 4G has now effectively reached 100% with a 4G penetration of 80%. The country is ready for 5G.
A prerequisite for continued data usage growth is that the total revenue per gigabyte is low. This is not the case in Greece, Canada and Belgium. The total revenue per gigabyte there is roughly 20 times higher than in Finland and more than 35 times higher than in India.
In this analysis we again use the Christmas tree visualisation to identify the countries where the more-for-more initiatives of operators buck the general more-for-less trend.
Our readers also know that we follow operator Wi-Fi closely, see e.g. this piece.
At tefficient, we believe that the world is (or is about to become) mobile-first. But it doesn’t mean that the mobile networks will carry most of the traffic. In contrast, as shown in this post based on OpenSignal data, the regular smartphone user is most often more on Wi-Fi than on mobile networks. And when the smartphone is on Wi-Fi, the traffic volume is often higher since fixed broadband users seldom have to worry about data caps. Mobile operating systems are also set up to prefer (or in the case of upgrades, mandate) Wi-Fi. All Wi-Fi traffic ends up on the fixed access network, not on the mobile access network.
We don’t take a side in the tiring conflict between the cellular camp and the Wi-Fi camp and will continue to argue that it’s not cellular or Wi-Fi, it’s cellular and Wi-Fi. It’s not licensed or unlicensed spectrum, it’s licensed and unlicensed.
For this post we have, for the first time, gathered reported fixed data usage stats from regulators and operators globally to try to answer two questions:
Are countries with low mobile data usage having higher fixed broadband usage? I.e. is fixed broadband compensating?
Are countries with high mobile data usage having lower fixed broadband usage? I.e. is mobile ‘cannibalising’ fixed?