Wednesday, July 28, 2010

AT&T Verizon and Smartphone Data Usage

Headlines can be deceiving.  Recently, ChannelWeb published an article entitled:

Verizon Smartphone Users Overtake AT&T iPhone Users In Wireless Data Use

In this article ChannelWeb notes that a study, to be released by Validas, a Missouri City, Texas-based provider of technology to help users analyze their wireless bills to find the best plans, shows that the amount of data accessed by the Verizon Wireless user grew the fastest of any smartphone users.

As a result, Verizon smartphone users will likely overtake iPhone users in terms of wireless data access, according to Validas in a blog post earlier this week.

This article could be misleading.  I posted a response to it as follows:

There are a couple of items to note about this piece.

First, while the usage per device may be higher with phones and devices from Verizon, this may be a result of the heavier reliance that Verizon has on their network vs AT&T devices which can seamlessly access wifi hotspots. Verizon does not have access to as many wifi hotspots as AT&T users.

In my own circumstance, my iPhone uses between 5 and 6 GB of data monthly, but only uses about 230 mb on the 3G network. The reason for this disparity is that most of the time, my iPhone automatically connects to available wifi networks. So when I am at home or at a Starbucks, McDonald's, many hotels, etc. my phone automatically connects to the wifi network. Since AT&T operates the largest footprint of wifi hotspots, this means that my phone's data does not travel on the 3G network as much.

This benefits me in several ways. First my overall speed is generally faster in wifi hotspots than anyone's 3G or 4G network. Secondly, because I am leveraging the wifi, I can better take advantage of AT&T's lower cost data plans.

As was pointed out, but buried in the story is the fact that AT&T support the largest number of smartphone devices, by far. So even though the usage may be smaller per device, the overwhelming larger number of devices on AT&T means that they carry the largest amount of mobile data, by far.

Finally, I am very satisfied with the performance of the network with my iPhone and would not consider switching, even if Verizon ever gets the iPhone.

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