Americans are so committed to their smartphones and tablets that they used nearly 10 billion gigabytes of mobile data last year, according to a new study published by a top industry trade group.
That's more than double the amount of data we used the year before. It reflects the tremendous explosion in mobile browsing — particularly online streaming music and video, both of which require lots of data.
The report from CTIA finds that consumers sucked down 804 billion megabytes of data a month last year, which adds up to a total of 9.65 billion gigabytes.
That's a huge amount of online data. And it's all the more remarkable when you look at previous years. From December 2013 to December 2014, U.S. data consumption grew by about 26 percent. But over the following year, it grew by 137 percent.
Some of that growth could be attributable to the swelling number of Americans choosing to disconnect their landlines and go mobile-only. Data from the Commerce Department show that we're increasingly abandoning our home Internet plans and exclusively using our phones to go online.
But we're also consuming more data-intensive services. YouTube and Netflix account for over half of all North American Internet traffic at peak hours, according to the networking equipment firm Sandvine, and the number keeps creeping up. Throw in streaming audio, such as music and online podcasts, and that figure jumps to 70 percent.
All this is sending hefty revenues to the wireless industry, which pulled in nearly $200 billion last year alone, reflecting a 70 percent jump compared with a decade ago. And you can bet that number is going to keep rising, as the world prepares for a future where almost every device you can see will be connected to the Internet somehow.
Correction: An earlier version of this post said Americans had used 1 trillion GB of data in 2015; in fact, the figure is much closer to 10 billion GB.