Facebook Mobile Traffic Load Grows 60% in 1 Year Because of Video

Perhaps the single biggest new development in mobile data consumption over the past year has been Facebook’s embedding of video that automatically plays on user feeds.

Over a year, Facebook traffic increased by 60 percent on the mobile network, and by over 200 percent on the fixed network, according to Sandvine measurements.

That is the sort of unexpected and  significant action by a third party app provider that directly affects user data consumption, Internet service provider bandwidth planning, capital investment and retail service plan features.

That is particularly the case for mobile networks, which have spectrum constraints not faced in the same way by fixed network operators.

Real time entertainment (streaming video and audio) has been the largest traffic category on most networks, fixed or mobile. But it is mobile video consumption that has the greatest impact on network demand, performance and investment requirements, since bandwidth is more limited and costs-per-bit for end users are much higher than for fixed networks.  

In North America, “average” (mean, or arithmetic average)  monthly usage grew 18 percent in six months, from 465 MB to 522 MB, according to Sandvine.

As with some other physical networks, adding more capacity (Long Term Evolution fourth generation networks) actually increases usage. Median usage (a mid-point figure, with half higher and half lower) grew from 102 MB to 118 MB over six months.

During peak period, real time entertainment traffic accounts for 40 percent of downstream bytes on mobile networks.

In Europe, mean monthly mobile data consumption was 449.5 MB, an increase of over 13 percent from 394.4 MB observed six months ago. Real time entertainment traffic accounts for 38 percent of downstream traffic during peak usage periods.

In Latin America, mean monthly mobile data usage was 390.3 MB, a slight increase over the 355.4MB seen six months earlier.

In Latin America, social networking is the largest driver of mobile usage, accounting for 31 percent of peak downstream traffic.

One reason is the popularity of low-cost, “all-you-can use” social networking plans offered by mobile service providers.

The Asia-Pacific mobile typical data consumption is at least 1 GB a month on average. Real time entertainment represents 47 percent of total data consumption during peak hours.

In Africa, in contrast, real time entertainment accounts for only 6.6 percent of peak downstream traffic.

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