Open thread: how much data do you use per month?

January 16, 2014
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Music streaming, video streaming, web browsing, social networking — all these activities have at least one thing in common: they use up data. Another commonality these activities share is that a vast majority of Americans at least semi-regularly use one or more of these services through a smartphone.

According to a new NPD study, six out of 10 Americans now have smartphones, a figure that is 52 percent higher from where it stood during the same timeframe last year. With smartphones becoming increasingly commonplace, mobile data usage is also on the rise. During the fourth quarter of 2013 it was determined that the average consumer used 6.6 gigabytes of data per month, from a combination of Wi-Fi and cellular networks.

We imagine that most of our readers aren’t that surprised. Whether you’re regularly watching Netflix, streaming music with Google Play Music or Spotify, or just downloading a bunch of apps, odds are your own usage probably falls somewhere around this level.

What’s interesting though is that the NPD study reports that one of the key drivers for ever-increasing data consumption is music streaming, apparently more so than any other activity. The NPD study says 52 percent of Americans use at least on streaming music app on their mobile devices, and that Pandora is the leading service followed by iHeart Radio, Spotify, TuneIn Radio and Slacker Radio.

While this increase in data usage came from a variety of activities, a key driver has been the adoption of streaming music services such as Pandora and iHeart Radio.

The more I think about my own data usage habits, I find myself not particularly surprised. According to my data usage tracking on my Nexus 5, Spotify is the largest contributor when it comes to data consumption, followed distantly by Chrome. Sure, I watch an occasional movie on my mobile devices, but I am much more likely to use my television when it comes to using a service like Netflix.

So how about you: How much data do you use on average, and how much of it is on Wi-Fi? What types of services/activities are your own ‘key driver’ when it comes to data usage? Sound off in the comments and be sure to answer our polls as well!

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