Super Bowl 50 Shatters Mobile Data Usage Records
Feb 11, 2016
The evolution from basic features phones to smartphones has been nothing short of phenomenal. Frost & Sullivan research indicates smartphones accounted for just over 21% of mobile phone connections in the US in 2009. That number increased to 70% in 2015, and is expected to grow to approximately 95% by 2020. Moreover, smartphone users are dedicating more than 85 percent of their mobile usage time to non-voice activities, with average monthly cellular data usage now surpassing 2GB per month.
So what impact did Super Bowl 50 have on mobile data usage?
Well, it was BIG! In anticipation of the ‘surge’, AT&T alone spent $25 million on enhancing their portion of the neutral host Distributed Antennae System (DAS) at Levi’s Stadium, installing DAS at 26 venues throughout the Bay area, setting up 9 Cell Sites on Wheels (COWs), and activating or upgrading nearly 40 cell sites throughout the area.
Was it money well spent?
Absolutely! AT&T metrics indicate they broke their record for on-network event data usage, with customers consuming 5.2 terabytes (TB) of mobile data during Super Bowl 50. The data total was 205% more than what was consumed during Super Bowl 49 in Arizona, and 882% greater than the average per game usage by AT&T customers during the 2015 NFL regular season. Interestingly, during the game’s opening kickoff alone, AT&T statistics show customers generated over 202 gigabytes (GB) of data.
What is driving this traffic?
The introduction of smartphone upgrade programs (i.e. monthly installment plans), larger screen devices, and LTE build-outs have dramatically accelerated the move to 4G capable devices and driven a significantly more diverse set of consumer communications exchanges, including text, data, photos, and video. In fact, Frost & Sullivan research indicates LTE devices consume approximately 1.5-2.x more monthly cellular data than non LTE devices of the same category.
Denver won the game, but who won the mobile data battle?
The Broncos won Super Bowl 50 handily, but which fan base can claim the ‘mobile data mantle’? Well, (unfortunately for many viewers) it was a lot closer than the game, but Panthers fans accounted for an estimated 52.5% share of the Super Bowl social media chatter within the AT&T installed base. Not exactly the Lombardi Trophy, but Carolina can claim the ‘fan base to beat’ for mobile social media!
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