Mobile Traffic Stats Growth for 2023 and Beyond

For those old enough to remember the 1980s and early 1990s, the mobile phones of that era were the approximate size and shape of a concrete block.

And they weren’t smart. Not by a long shot. You could talk, text, and maybe play a few simplistic games. There was one called Snake that found a popular home on Nokia phones in the mid-1990s—the hours wasted! ‘Nuff said about that.

If you want to wallow in antique phone nostalgia, here’s where those games live on the internet now. But that’s not what we’re here to talk about.

Less than 30 years later, our phones are slim little devices we tuck in a pocket, but they boast computing power that makes the NASA computers that sent men to the moon look like two tin cans with a string tied between them. 

Evolution of Mobile Phone

And the amount of data that flows through them. Oy vey! This article is about mobile traffic, but it’s impossible to talk about that without discussing the devices that carry it. 

The reality is that mobile technology is the mover and shaker in the world right now. Each new generation of phones brings us a more powerful, useful device at a lower cost. It may be ahead of the times to say that our internet is now a mobile internet, but the day is coming when that will be true for all practical purposes.

Today’s internet has become something very close to a utility like electricity or water, considered a basic life service we can’t live without. It might not be air and water, but it’s close. Since the turn of the century, our lives have moved online. We use the web to work, play, learn, and engage in dozens of other activities. And since about 2006 (not uncoincidentally the year Facebook arrived on the scene for public use), the migration has been from anchored devices like desktops to those handy things we call smartphones.

For this article, the mobile devices referred to include smartphones, tablets, and laptops. But let’s not forget the IoT (Internet of Things) like Apple watches, health monitoring devices, and smart home security monitors. Anything you can easily take with you that grabs mobile data.

And while you theoretically could hook up your desktop to some kind of battery, wheel it around on a dolly all day, and claim it was mobile - come on - that’s not what we’re talking about.

Back in 1985, British rock band Dire Straits conquered the world with their song Money for Nothing at least in part to the catchy refrain sung so artfully in falsetto by Sting of the Police - “I want my MTV.”

These days we want our internet, and we want it on a mobile device. Check these stats that reveal the current state of mobile usage. We’ll get into the reasons mobile will continue to experience exponential growth, but the here and now is impressive.

  • Globally, mobile devices account for 57% of sales when compared to desktops
  • 47% of ALL online traffic in the United States is mobile
  • The average amount of time US smartphone owners spend daily on their devices is 5.5 hours
  • The messaging platform WhatsApp boasts two billion active users
  • 5G coverage should be available to around 60% of the world by 2026
  • South Korea’s mobile connection speed of 113 Mbps is the world’s fastest

Use of messaging apps

So, this is our starting point. Let’s take a quick look at the recent growth that brought us to this point of an ever-rising smartphone adoption rate and a comparatively even higher rate of consumption of mobile traffic.

The Rise of Mobile Internet

Massive technological shifts happen for a reason, and it’s been no different for the exponentially increasing use of mobile devices. While breaking down such a monumental upheaval in internet evolution is beyond the constraints of this article, check out the following reasons we spitballed just to have a starting point.

Historically Fast Market Penetration

*NOTE: For this section, our first reference to “telephones” is an old-fashioned device invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. We’ll refer to the newfangled internet-enabled devices that eventually grew from Bell’s invention as phones or smartphones.

Now let’s talk about how long it took the telephone, radio, television, and internet to spread worldwide. We’ll take two of them - landline telephone and electrical lines. From the moment each was invented, it took more than a century for them to spread to the point where anyone who wanted the technology had it.

Television and the internet were adopted faster, but it was nothing like the 8-10 years it took smartphones to go from a standing start to global coverage. The even more exciting part was that the previous technologies we just mentioned (radio, telephone, tv, computer) have been folded into the smartphone, leaving us with a single device that literally does everything that the others do.

From the release of the first true smartphone, the blackberry RIM, in 2002, through the development of the 3G and 4G (and now 5G) networks, up to the first billion devices in use was a remarkably short time. The obvious question. Why smartphones? Easy answer.

Mobile applications. The advancement and development of apps is the not-so-secret sauce that made it possible to stuff all the other technologies into this one device. No matter what you want to do, there’s an app for that.

Television? Sign up for YouTube TV, and you’ve got it.

Radio? Check out Pandora, iHeart, or dozens of other services. 

Telephone? Check.

Computer? Check.

Nine million other doodads, geegaws, and stuff? Check.

This is not to say that the other technologies weren’t as revolutionary. They just existed in a much tougher marketing environment than the smartphone did, thanks to a little thing called e-commerce.

Mobile is Everyday Life

Around 93% of Americans access the internet. It’s no passing fad. There’s not much doubt that it is the most vital tool in history for communication, information, entertainment, working, and shopping. You would be hard-pressed to find an aspect of modern life entirely independent of the internet.

At the beginning of the Internet Age, desktops comprised nearly 100% of the market. That has shrunk to a tad over 37% now, which is a monumental shift. Some activities like creative work benefit from a larger screen, and that won’t change for the foreseeable future. Still, the following factors continue to drive users away from desktop devices and toward mobile:

  • Smartphones are cheaper
  • You can get a signal almost anywhere
  • Improved features/technology allows it to replace a desktop

Less developed economies are skipping the desktop phase and going straight to smartphones. Let’s take a closer look at the rush to mobile and why it’s happening.


Before 2020, the percentage of Americans who worked from home had been increasing steadily over the prior decade but stood at just 5.7%. What happened in 2020 to change that? You probably remember a little thing we’re still living with - the Covid-19 pandemic.

Almost overnight, the percentage of WFH (work-from-home) employees jumped to 17.9%. Our entire lifestyle changed for the bad and the good. The bad, well, there was (and still is) a pandemic that has killed more than six million people to date. The good is freedom! Thanks to the miracle of mobile, it’s easy to stay in touch with the home office while you’re out and about.


While nothing compares to the severe effect of the pandemic on our lives in general, the mobile impact on shopping has also been drastic. The pandemic caused online shopping to spike, and mobile online shopping soon followed. 

Most people are familiar with the term “e-commerce.” Mobile shopping has seen such an increase in use that another bit of jargon has come into use. M-commerce stands for, you guessed it, using your mobile phone at some point in the buying and selling process. And this generates a heck of a lot of additional mobile data. 

Why consumers prefer shopping online

Currently, 4 out of 5 Americans shop online to some extent, and 77% carry smartphones. The device has become a ubiquitous part of the shopping experience. The smartphone has evolved from a fun little gadget to kill a few minutes at the doctor’s office texting and playing games to a vital link in our national pastime, and we’re not talking about baseball here.

And it’s not hyperbole to call shopping a national pastime. Check these numbers:

  • Mobile e-commerce sales will be $430 billion in 2022 and $710 billion by 2025
  • There are 2.5 billion smartphone users in the world
  • Mobile devices comprise 49% of local website traffic

There are two basic ways shoppers use their smartphones. The first involves purchasing through a web app without going into a retail store. All you need is a cell signal and money on a credit or debit card. It is SOOO easy to spend money like this, and people are doing it in a big way.

Another popular way to use your mobile device to shop is to search for a nearby brick-and-mortar store with the item you are looking for. You can check availability and compare prices before you ever set foot in a store. This is a huge time-saver.


Not so many years ago, our primary entertainment goal was to find the biggest television screen to splash our movies and shows across 55-inch, 85-inch, and even 160 feet. That last one was the video screen installed by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in his $4 billion stadium built in 2009.

But a funny thing happened along the way to a national obsession with finding the largest screen in history - we went small instead. All the way down to 4.7 inches. Why? In a word - streaming. If you want to add another word in there - Netflix.

While the idea of gathering daily around a monster television in the living room to binge-watch the new season of Yellowstone will never completely go out of fashion, there’s something about streaming content that sends us tap, tap, tapping our way to those tiny smartphone screens.

How much time do we spend devouring entertainment on our smartphones? This includes gaming, social media, and even mindless browsing. Before we get to that, let’s look at this:

  • Over all age groups and geographical areas, the average person spends 3 hours and 15 minutes on their smartphone daily
  • The average American spends 5 hours and 30 minutes on their phone
  • Teens spend 7 hours and 22 minutes on their phone 

Here’s the interesting part about that teen statistic. The number of 7 hours and 22 minutes only takes into account the time they spend in leisure activities on entertainment. Overall use jumps to 9 hours and 49 minutes if you consider non-entertainment activities like schoolwork or reading.

Simple math tells us that today’s teens devote 75% of their daily phone screen time to entertainment. Much of that includes streaming video, which is a data hog. We can expect that today’s teenage viewing habits will evolve into tomorrow’s adult habits, and mobile data demands will have no choice but to continue to rise. 


One of the first actions taken by school districts in the aftermath of the pandemic was to shut schools down and switch to online learning where possible. It became quickly apparent that not many of them were anywhere near ready to make that change quickly or efficiently and in some cases, weren’t prepared to do it at all. But pandemic-inspired educational changes notwithstanding, mobile learning as a general idea will only continue gaining in use and popularity. Here are a few reasons why.

80% of the world’s population use smartphones: In addition to this massive evidence of market penetration in general, it’s interesting to note that you’re more likely to find a person who only uses a smartphone (27% of the time) than who only uses a computer (14% of the time). That tells you all you need to know about where the future is going, and mobile learning is no different.

Taking a closer look at millennials, who make up the majority of the current workforce, the numbers related to smartphone adoption are even more lopsided. 97% of them own and use a smartphone and 90% don’t go anywhere without it.

Add to that the infinite pool of learning resources available online and the strange-but-true fact that 60% of people prefer the vertical screen orientation of smartphones to the horizontal layout of desktops and laptops, and you have all the evidence needed to see that mobile learning (m-learning) is poised for takeoff.

91% of phone time is spent with apps: Let’s look at millennials again. This generation grew up during the mobile technological boom. Using apps is as natural as breathing. It’s no accident that m-learning educational programs are designed in app format; the better to snare the attention of a notoriously attention-deficit-stricken millennial.

Mobile-first learning and training tools are looking to be the perfect tool to dispense education or job-related material to today’s workforce.

Checking in by smartphone 221 times a day: If any number presented in this article is likely to blow your mind clean out of your skull, it’s these two. Today’s average smartphone user touches their device 2,000 times daily and pulls it out to check it 221 times. Putting your training or educational material on a mobile device cannot fail because that’s where the audience spends so much of their time.

Going mobile reduces the friction and frustration of making this mobile generation use a company intranet or other type of medium that feels awkward to them. They live in apps, so why deliver content in any other form?   

30% already use their smartphones for on-the-go learning: Most of your interaction with your phone is likely in the form of informal research through queries. There is a big, gaping opportunity for educational companies to take this pre-existing appetite for informal learning and turn it into a structured routine. 

43% productivity improvement with mobile learning: The preceding discussion about the benefits of mobile learning isn’t theoretical. Compared to those using other types of devices, mobile learning leverages the power of modern microlearning (material delivered in short 2-5 minute bursts) to induce smartphone users to complete courses 45% faster than those in a desktop environment.

Millennials and management hate day-long intensive training led by a real instructor in real-time. This learning style has been shown to retain little knowledge and is hopelessly old-fashioned when employees or students can fire up an app and knock out a lesson or two at their convenience.

Mobile learning statistics

One of the secrets to mobile learning success is the gamification of the process. It’s been shown that mimicking popular online games triggers a dopamine release that trains a student to want to return to the app, again and again, to compete against their co-workers or classmates and, by the way, learn something in the process.

This approach dispenses with the need for instructor-led motivation. It’s all internal from the student.

Mobile learning creates a 55% business improvement: Business leaders who have taken the plunge and implemented mobile learning have already seen a greater than 50% positive return. We’ve already covered the idea that mobile learning promotes productivity. In addition, employees tend to stay longer and try harder for employers who invest in their education and development.

Job churn due to a lack of growth and development opportunities has largely been to blame for the so-called Great Resignation in recent years, which has cost the US economy $1 trillion annually. Mobile learning goes a long way toward creating a happy, motivated workforce that benefits employees and employers.

This section hopefully offers insight into some of the reasons mobile traffic has been on the rise in recent years and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.

Mobile Technology Becoming the Major Market Player

People love their smartphones for many reasons but perhaps most of all because they’re smart. In other words, there’s a good chance that a feature will arise between any two random phone generations that will set off a buying spree…again.

Don’t doubt their popularity.

Apple Registers the Most Mobile Traffic

As of 2021, there were 6.4 billion smartphone subscriptions in the world. That number is expected to hit 7.5 billion by 2026. Mobile phone vendors Android and iOS account for around 90% of the market since 2013. Here’s the complete breakdown for the US market, which is the largest:

  • Apple 61.47%
  • Samsung 23.8%
  • LG 4.24%
  • Motorola 3.15%
  • Google 2.37%

Judging from the percentages, it’s not a stretch to say that as Apple goes, so goes the entire market. That’s why it’s such a big deal when CEO Tim Cook holds an annual global meeting to announce a new smartphone version typically packed with new features. For example, here are features expected the next go-'round.

  • Always-on camera
  • 8K HDR video recording
  • Video Bokeh (optional AI-powered background blur)
  • CPU performance boost
  • CD-quality lossless wireless audio (Android Snapdragon only)
  • Faster 5G connectivity (up to 10Gbps)

5G Connectivity 

Since about 2019, the 5G network has been near the top of new smartphone features, and we can expect it to continue growing for a while. Its market penetration has more than doubled over the past three years, though it is expected to slow considerably until 2027 as it reaches maximum market penetration. 

5G stands for fifth-generation wireless. It is the current leader in mobile broadband technology and will eventually replace 4G/LTE networks. The 3G network is scheduled to be phased out in 2022, and 2G is already gone. While 5G currently occupies only a small percentage of the overall usable network (typically urban areas), it is growing fast.

5G has been designed considering future connectivity

Increasing bandwidth and speed-intensive internet brought about the demand for a more powerful network. Currently, a little over five billion people are using the internet, with around 500,000 new users going online for the first time each day. While much of this continued demand results from nothing more than expected growth, we also have new services like the IoT (internet of things) and Facebook’s metaverse to thank. 

In case you were wondering, the 5G network is not the end of the line. Cell phone technology engineers are already working on the 6G network and say it will be significantly faster than its predecessor. Expect that there will eventually be a 7G and 8G; you get the idea.

One technology on the horizon might disrupt this process, and it’s known as a Quantum Phone or Q-Phone. While practical quantum computing is not here yet, it is expected to be a foundational game changer to the very nature of our binary-based computing.

Quantum computers - if and when they arrive - will be able to handle bandwidths and speeds heretofore considered unfathomable. The future is likely to be quite interesting in the computing field. 

Mobile Traffic Patterns Shift

We’ve already discussed the rise of mobile internet on a per-device basis, but let’s look at the actual traffic that underpins it and where it’s coming from. To understand how far we’ve come with this mobile internet thing, we need to consider the other days of the internet when almost all devices were “tethered.”

Embracing Mobile and Leaving the Desktop Behind

While the first desktop computer was created in 1976 and the first laptop only a few years later in 1979, these two devices were worlds apart in the internet’s early years of development. Desktops dominated personal computing and the internet through the 1980s and the 1990s.

Desktops maintained a prominent presence even as laptops became more common. But the bomb that exploded in the industry went off on June 29, 2007, when the first iPhone was released in the US. We didn’t know it then, but the hourglass had been flipped, and the sand measuring desktop dominance began running out.

Mobile Traffic Snags 50% of the Market

For years, the 50% line was seen as the line of demarcation that would eventually usher in the Age of Mobile Internet. Depending on who you ask, mobile traffic accounts for around 54% of all traffic. Some B2C sites see as much as 65% of traffic on the mobile side. Here are a few cold, hard stats:

  1. 31% of traffic was mobile in the US in 2015
  2. 54% of traffic is now mobile in the US
  3. 57% of traffic is mobile globally
  4. Africa has the highest mobile internet traffic at 69% 
  5. Mobile traffic increased by 50% between Q3 2019 and Q3 2020

Though mobile traffic had been increasing steadily before Q3 2019, the growth between that point and Q3 2020 was extraordinary. There are a few different ways to explain this jump, which all have to do with the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • Lockdowns kept people at home more and using their mobile devices for entertainment.
  • Remote work became a thing almost overnight, resulting in more use of mobile devices.
  • Higher demand for the few household desktops by students for remote learning, sending parents scrambling to work on mobile devices. 

Trafficking in 5G

We talked about the coming 5G network in general terms a few sections back but left out an important point. How much 5G traffic is there when compared to overall mobile traffic? In other words, is 5G making a dent in the traffic carried by 3G and 4G?

In short, the answer is no. 5G has barely made a dent in overall mobile traffic. An article on the website described the coverage as “sparse.” In contrast, 4G has 99% coverage in the UK.

Expect a similar ratio in the US and other developed countries. The good news is that we’ve caught 5G on the upswing. Estimates suggest it will carry 54% of all mobile traffic by 2026. Of course, by that time, you’ll probably be reading articles like this one speculating about the 6G rollout.

We’re serious

A new “G” comes around about every ten years, so be on the lookout in 2030 for the next iteration. It tells us that things are moving fast in the cellular technology world when you need to completely uproot its technical foundation every decade.

Monthly Data Usage Headed Up, Up, and Away

Here’s the least surprising observation of the 21st century. People are using more data these days. They can’t help it. 

As internet users have shifted away from text and downloadable video to the higher bandwidth delivery method of streaming as the de facto method of consuming information, and more formerly off-line activities go online, the average amount of bandwidth used per person daily is rapidly expanding.

Here’s a simple example. Banks used to slap a postage stamp on an envelope and mail out hundreds (or thousands) of end-of-the-month account statements. They were heavy on wasting trees, but, by gosh, they were conserving pixels.

Now, you’d be hard-pressed to find a handful of bank customers under 50 who receive a paper statement. Instead, you log into your account, look, and maybe take a shot at balancing the numbers. Or maybe not. Who are we kidding? No one balances a statement anymore. You just spend money until it’s gone and then worry about finding more.

But you did process data in the form of PFD documents as you scrolled through the cyber pages. There you have it—one tiny little example of an offline activity that has moved online and begun consuming data.

How much data does the average person consume in a single day, and how much has it increased in recent years? That’s a good question. Stay here, and we’ll find out and get back to you.

Wait. Before we go down that rabbit hole, let’s look at how much data is consumed during one hour of the following typical mobile online activities.

  • Pokemon Go | 3 Mb
  • Spotify | 40 Mb (normal quality)
  • Safari | 60 Mb (web browsing)
  • Facebook | 80 Mb
  • Watching YouTube | 300 Mb (standard definition)
  • Instagram | 720 Mb
  • TikTok | 840 Mb

Just scanning this simple list should give you a hint that there’s a lot of data whirling through the average mobile device. According to, the global average of mobile data consumed daily per person is a bit over 10Gb per month, which works out to about 333 Mb daily. 

Keep in mind this is mobile data only. It doesn’t include time spent on a wi-fi network at home or any of the two dozen coffee shops you frequent throughout the month. If you’re wondering whether or not 10 Gb is a high number - it is. The number has been rising in recent years, unsurprisingly, in lockstep with the increased adoption of the 5G network.

By 2026, estimates are that daily mobile data use per person will be around 35 Gb. The use of 5G networks doubled in 2021 and is set to surpass that growth rate in 2022. That’s one of the apparent culprits, but a few more aren’t quite as easy to spot. 

We’ve mentioned before how some countries like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and other Gulf countries skipped the entire desktop era to a large extent and went straight to mobile data-devouring smartphones.  

The last sneaky mobile data hogs are mobile broadband routers. The pandemic-inspired move to remote work happened about the same time cellular companies began offering in-home data plans for everyday internet use. These plans run off of mobile data and have provided a significant boost to overall mobile data consumption.  

This brings us full circle back to 5G. Without this technology providing the increased speed to make mobile networks comparable to mid-level cable packages, mobile in-home data plans wouldn’t be fast enough to compete with their wired cousins.

The rise of mobile broadband-Data only

Screen Resolution and the Data Effect

What does screen resolution have to do with data consumption? Nothing, right? Wrong. A significant point is often overlooked with the rush toward high-definition screens on our smartphones. 

The greater the screen resolution, the faster the device consumes data. It’s a sneaky side effect of improved technology leading to negative consequences. Let’s take a quick look behind the curtain at how mobile companies operate. We’ll use Xfinity as an example. If you’re okay with a regular screen resolution (480p), it comes standard with an unlimited line and is a DVD-quality appearance. Not terrible. Not great.

But what if you’re not okay with 480p? What if the very thought makes you kick and scream and throw things at your sales rep? That sounds like an anger management issue and is beside the point. But what if you really, really, really need HD video on your phone? If you have a 5G phone, you’re in luck. One of the tech improvements with 5G is HD video.

But what if you have one of those darn old-fashioned 4G phones? Xfinity and some other mobile companies offer what they call HD Pass. For an extra twenty bucks per month, you can have the signal on your 4G mobile phone’s unlimited line plan upgraded to a high-definition experience.

Alternatively, connect to a 5G wifi hotspot for better video quality.

Bandwidth Needed for Your Favorite Activities/Apps

When it comes to playing or working online, all activities are not created equal. Some need a little bandwidth, and some require a lot. We mentioned a few of these earlier but let’s dig deeper. But before we dig deeper, are we clear on the difference between upload and download speed? 

Download Speed: This is typically referred to when you ask how “fast” a connection is. If you say you have a 50 Mbps connection, 50 Mbps of data flows past a given spot in a single second. Download refers to how fast your connection can receive data. Examples of downloading would be surfing the web or watching a YouTube video.

Upload Speed: This refers to how fast your connection can send data. Examples of uploading activities include sending an email or an image to Facebook.

Understanding Bandwidth: Bandwidth isn’t the simplest thing to understand, so let’s try not to get complicated. Let’s say you have a 25 Mbps broadband connection - which isn’t great.

Let’s further say you have four in your household - Parent 1, Parent 2, Child 1, Child 2 - and that they are all online at the same time. The math is pretty simple here. The combined sum of their online activities can’t exceed 25 Mbps, or the quality of everyone’s activity will suffer from lag (buffering) created by too much demand being placed on the system. You can think of the buffer as a holding area where all the data in the form of movies, music, and browsing wait to be called on. No worries as long as the sum of all activity remains below 25 Mbps. But if the demand on the system exceeds the ability to keep the buffer full, then you’ve got problems.

Streaming Video

The emergence of streaming technology and platforms (Spotify, Hula, Netflix, etc.) has been among the most impactful in recent years. We watched Netflix go from shipping movies via VHS tapes and DVDs to streaming movies on monthly plans. The less you pay, the more commercials you have to watch.

Watching a movie in this manner is referred to as streaming, and it has become a big business in a big way. Once entertainment platforms saw the potential, the floodgates opened, and here came the streamers: AppleTV, Disney Plus, Peacock, Paramount+, Hulu+++, and more. Each charges anywhere from a couple of bucks to upwards of ten dollars per month to access its service.

Here’s the part you might not have considered. Streaming uses a lot of data, especially if you opt for the high-definition version. These days, though, it’s hard to avoid streaming. If you consume any type of video, music, or podcast, you’re probably streaming it at some point in the process.

Here are some of the streaming platforms and their accompanying download speeds:

  • Netflix: 3 Mbps Standard | 5 Mbps High Def
  • Hulu: 3 Mbps On Demand | 8 Mbps Live TV
  • Amazon Prime: 1 Mbps Standard | 5 Mbps High Def
  • YouTube: 2.5 Mbps
  • HBO Max: 5 Mbps
  • Peacock: 2.5 Mbps
  • Disney Plus: 5 Mbps
  • ESPN Plus: 2 Mbps
  • Sling: 5 Mbps

Note that the above are all download speeds only because you’re not likely to be uploading movies for other people to watch, now are you? Unless you’re a pirate! It’s interesting to note that there is some fluctuation between bandwidth among different services.

Streaming Music

Just seeing the word “streaming” probably makes your heart skip a beat, and a cold sweat breaks out. When something is being streamed, you wouldn’t be faulted for thinking it’s probably chewing through data, like Taz chewing up the scenery on a walk through the Looney Tunes countryside.

Except it’s not if it’s audio. For whatever reason, and we’re not going deep into the technical details here, streaming audio rarely uses as much bandwidth as streaming video. That’s just the way it is. Take a look at these music suppliers.

  • Spotify: 96 Kbps
  • Apple Music: 256 Kbps
  • Pandora: 150 Kbps
  • Amazon Music: 500 Kbps

Notice these music streamers aren’t measured in megabits per second but in kilobits per second. That’s a pretty small data imprint, bub. Of course, there is a quality difference between 96 Kbps and 500 Kbps. Like streaming video, higher bandwidth gets you a higher quality. 

Online Gaming

Technically speaking, it only takes about 5 Mbps to participate in online gaming. But most gaming platforms have minimum requirements for a player’s system to allow them to connect to the game server. Here are some of the most popular.

Nintendo Switch: 3 Mbps download | 1 Mbps upload

PS4: 3 Mbps download | 1 Mbps upload

Xbox One: 3 Mbps download | .5 Mbps upload

Google Stadia: 10 Mbps download

More than bandwidth, online gamers should concern themselves with latency. This refers to the lag time between their gaming system and the game server. Successful gameplay relies on quick human and machine reactions. Look for latency that is below 100 ms at a minimum. You’re better off in the 20-40 ms range.

Home Security Systems

As the world gets wackier in general, home security system components have experienced a popularity surge and an accompanying rise in mobile traffic. While it’s not impossible to have a few smart house components hardwired into the system, wireless is the most common method of building out a security system.

Many home security doodads make their way to the Internet of Things (IoT). We mentioned this a while back but didn’t go into detail. The IoT is an internet sub-group that consists of physical objects with sensors, processing ability, software, and other technologies that connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over a network.

Despite being referred to as the IoT, an IoT device doesn’t necessarily have to be attached to the public internet. It only has to be part of some kind of network. The important point here is that the IoT is growing at an almost unfathomable rate, and much of it is on the public internet (which has created a cybersecurity crisis - but we’ll get to that in a bit). The IoT is experiencing a burst of growth thanks to the (you guessed it) 5G rollout. Here are some growth stats related to the IoT.

  • 13 billion devices connected to the IoT by 2023
  • 75 billion devices connected to the IoT by 2025
  • The average number of connected devices per household is 22
  • One-third of US consumers own a smart speaker
  • Google owns 48% of the IoT device market

These billions of devices come at a cost in bandwidth. While most are lightweight, the sheer number may affect available bandwidth. Good thing 5G is coming online to greatly expand our mobile traffic potential. Here are a few well-known services/devices and their bandwidth draw.

  • Nest: 150-4000 Kbps upload per device
  • Ring: 2 Mbps upload and download per device
  • SimpliSafe: Cameras require .75-2 Mbps upload per device

This is only a fraction of the kind of devices on the IoT. Online devices also represent categories such as consumer products, industrial machinery, infrastructure, fleet and logistics, and connected markets. 

The Internet of Things

Video Conferencing

You can’t have a pandemic without talking about video conferencing. Perhaps no single activity has benefited from Covid-19 as much as this one. We might have thought we were making good use of video conferencing before the pandemic, but in retrospect, we were playing in the shallow end of the pool.

Here’s what happened.

Covid-19 landed and sent the world into an immediate panic that stranded millions of people at home under lockdown. Since, as we learned, you can’t just shut down a nation’s economy without some severe side effects, companies switched to all-out panic mode and created remote work teams on the spot. 

Since tin cans and string have a limited range, about a million companies got the same bright idea at the same time. “What about that web Zoom doohickey thing?” “Yeah, how about that web Zoom doohickey thing?” Technically called Zoom; the company was meandering along pre-pandemic as a video conferencing app that a few people had heard of.

As the pandemic kicked in, Zoom went wild. In December 2019, a few months before the pandemic, the company had 10 million meeting participants. That had increased to 200 million by early April 2021. By the end of the month, the number had grown to 300 million. But the funny thing is that Zoom has continued to grow into 2022, even with the pandemic off the mass media’s radar. 

Here’s the thing. Though the exit from the traditional office was an instantaneous tsunami, people returning has only been a trickle. Many companies have realized there are benefits to remote work and have been more willing to give it a more extended trial period.

So, we’re left with the two mega-video conferencing companies.

  • Zoom: 2 Mbps upload and download
  • Skype: 1.5 Mbps upload and download

While many online activities do fine with a slower upload speed than download speed, video conferencing is the exception. Every participant in a call needs to be able to send and receive with equal power. Otherwise, you get wonky calls, and nobody likes that.

Online Privacy and Security

Ironically, one of the main complaints about Zoom’s video conferencing app has been a somewhat lackadaisical approach to security. For now, we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and blame it on an extended period of exponential growth that no one could have expected or prepared for regarding security or a dozen different areas.

For a while, Zoom put a hold on including new features, rightly presuming that they should learn how to operate what they had efficiently before expanding. But the broader point here is that Zoom and the mobile industry, in general, need a solid grip on securing all that new 5G traffic floating around out there.

Mobile Device Cybersecurity

The concept of cybersecurity developed in a desktop world, and that’s where it stayed for a long time. Somewhere along the way, though, consultants realized that mobile traffic made up around half of all data, and there didn’t seem to be a coherent plan for securing it.

When securing mobile devices, the attack surface is many times larger, which makes administering a Mobile Device Management program more complicated than managing a desktop or corporate network environment.

Types of Threats

Though mobile devices seem about as far removed from desktops as you can imagine, the cybersecurity threats they face are similar. The category breakdown is based on the entry point into the system. 

Physical Threats: While the whole point of having a mobile phone is its portability, that’s the very thing that creates an increased physical threat when compared to, say, a desktop. When was the last time you saw a hacker running down the middle of Main Street, lugging an entire desktop system with him?

Loss and theft are the main physical threats to a smartphone. Companies and individuals go wrong in not activating a secure lock screen or even a remote wipe option that allows the owner to delete all data from a stolen device remotely. Here are other common threats of a physical nature.

  • An employee charges his phone at a charging station rigged to install malware automatically.
  • A device taken out of service is improperly disposed of, leaving vulnerable data at risk.
  • A device is left unattended and appears untouched when the owner returns, though it might have had data stolen, been paired with a malicious device, or had backdoor malware installed.
  • A USB left lying around is plugged into a laptop out of curiosity. Surprise! There’s no free Bitcoin hiding there. It’s actually a virus.
  • After stealing login credentials, a hacker impersonates a user to re-assign the phone number to a new SIM card. At that point, anything goes.

Mobile App Threats: Mobile apps are the superpower that gives a smartphone its brains. They can give an individual or team a productivity boost like nothing else. They can also be a flashing neon invitation to a passing hacker to hop right into the device and do their worst.

If you download an app from any major app store, you don’t have as much to worry about. Those places have plenty of built-in security. In reality, many people bypass an app store and take their chances with a jailbroken phone or by downloading an “incredible” deal on apps from sketchy sites.

The deal will likely include a malware suite that will mess up your device. Besides the risk of malware, there are other mobile app issues to watch out for:

  • Improper session handling
  • Authentication problems
  • Injection attacks
  • Security misconfigurations
  • Insecure data storage
  • Weak server-side controls

This article isn’t intended to make you a mobile app cybersecurity consultant. Still, you should be aware of the variety of ways an attacker can approach breaking into your phone through any of the dozens of apps you have installed. While you’d like to think that the app manufacturer included state-of-the-art security, there’s no guarantee they did. 

Network Threats: You probably don’t think twice before connecting to the Wi-Fi at your favorite coffee shop or hotel you stayed at on your last business trip. That’s a mistake. Wi-fi networks are notorious for being easily hacked, especially when it comes to Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attacks or intercepting and stealing mobile traffic from unencrypted data.

Hackers have also made a cottage industry out of spoofing rogue wi-fi networks. They appear legitimate but exist only to launch Denial-of-Service or MITM attacks, steal data, or install malware or ransomware. If it’s a network you aren’t sure of, proceed with caution.

Endpoint and Web-Based Threats: An endpoint is a physical device like a desktop, laptop, mobile device, or even an IoT device. Any physical device like this would allow access to a protected network via a trick, as we mentioned earlier, of leaving a USB lying around and hoping someone plugs it into an endpoint out of curiosity.

Web-based threats exist mainly in the form of malware and phishing attacks. Phishing is when a hacker uses email, text, or even phone calls to trick someone into downloading a malicious file or clicking on a dangerous link. Study after study has shown that this relatively low-tech form of hack continues to be the most successful because the weak link in any organization is always the humans.

A final form of web-based threats is failing to install timely software updates or patch known vulnerabilities. Once again, this is a human failure because it could have been easily avoided by taking simple proactive actions.

Biggest data breaches of the 21st century

Must-Have Security Features

While there are plenty of bells and whistles regarding cybersecurity, you can rapidly spend your way into the poor house if you get them all. Here are the critical features your security plan should have.

  • Clear Policies - Make sure there is no ambiguity in companywide security policies. A manual should spell out everything everyone should know concerning mobile security, BYOD guidelines, acceptable use, strong passwords, public wi-fi, app installation, device loss, and updates.
  • VPNs - Employees should be required to connect through a VPN any time they are on an unsecured network.
  • Endpoint Security - We just mentioned this. Create endpoint security solutions that monitor mobile devices for any suspicious behavior.
  • Email Security - Deploy advanced spam and malware filters to detect and block potential threats. Employees should receive periodic training on not falling for the myriad phishing schemes out there.
  • Secure Web Gateway - Whether you have a private network or use the public internet, ensure your connection to the outside world is adequate to protect against web-based threats and enforce company cybersecurity policies.
  • Cloud Access Security Broker - A CASB (Cloud Access Security Broker) is a trained specialist who sits between company users and cloud service providers to enforce security policies and spot trouble before it causes a problem.
  • Encryption - Encrypting sensitive information like company data and emails should be second nature. It’s the best way to keep prying eyes from being able to read private information even if it happens to be stolen. Encrypt, encrypt, encrypt.
  • Mobile Device Management - Simplify this process by using MDM software to update, monitor, license, and track all your mobile devices. You could do it all by hand, but why go to all that trouble?  

With the preceding features, you can rest easily at night, knowing that your mobile security plan hits on all the critical points. For iPhone users, Mac has always had a sterling reputation for security but don’t make the mistake of thinking it's impenetrable and getting lazy with best security practices.

Meet the App Store

You can’t write an article about mobile devices without talking about the concept of app stores. In 2011, Apple took Amazon to court to try and make them stop using the term “app store” when referring to their online marketplace for Android apps.

The judge found that “app store” was a generic description that applied to any store that sold apps and couldn’t be retained exclusively by Apple. Through widespread usage, if you say “the app store,” people will likely assume you’re referring to the Apple version, though the other big one, Android, sometimes refers to their store the same way, they also call it the Google Play Store.

App stores are a critical part of the mobile device process. If you want a cool new app or a tried and true classic, head on over to the app store of your choice. The iOS app store has about 800,000 active apps they have curated for public use. Google Play’s count sits at around 600,000. Another 75,000 live in the Amazon app store.

Why are there so many apps? The basic answer is that we humans have a lot of needs, and an app is good at solving them one need at a time.

What are the most popular apps? These are broken out into free and paid. Yep, sorry, but capitalism rules the day in the app store. Develop a popular app, and you might become a millionaire. Think back to when Angry Birds ruled the day.

Let’s take a random day like today and run through the top five apps in each category.


  1. 911 Emergency Dispatcher
  2. YouTube
  3. TikTok
  4. ESPN Tournament Challenge
  5. Finger on the App 2


  1. Minecraft
  2. Bloons TD 6
  3. Heads Up!
  4. Procreate Pocket
  5. Geometry Dash

Why do we use apps so darn much? According to Nir Eyal, author of Hooked, “Once the habit is formed, the user is no longer considering whether they should open an app - they check the app every day, automatically, without thinking much about it.”

How many apps do you tend to use daily? According to Nielson, the number of apps we use hasn’t changed significantly over the last ten years. The average person has 25-30 apps on their phone that they use regularly.

If it seems like everyone is walking around with their nose glued to a tiny smartphone screen, you’re right. Daily, the numbers are staggering. 

  • Americans check their phones 262 times per day
  • That’s once every 5.5 minutes
  • 88% of that time is spent staring at apps

If you’re honest with yourself, these numbers should be no surprise. Our entire lives have moved online - the phone is our constant companion while driving, eating, working out, sleeping, going to school, going to work, and just about any other activity you can think of. 

At the beginning of the shift from desktop to mobile, the natural assumption was that mobile websites would be the landing spot for all that traffic. But a funny thing happened on the way to that certainty.

It didn’t happen. At least not to the extent everyone expected it would. When it comes to apps vs. mobile websites, users spend 88% of their time on apps and only 10% on mobile websites. Same thing if you take a look at e-commerce by the minute. Mobile app users spend around 202 minutes monthly shopping in apps and only about 11 minutes monthly shopping on mobile sites.

This is not a competition. It’s not even close. 

While it’s difficult to say that a site owner shouldn’t spend much time tweaking their mobile website, the numbers show that maybe time would be better spent developing an app. So what happened? Why do users prefer apps so strongly?

The answer is simple and applies to every other internet feature that hits the sweet spot of consumer preference. It comes down to the following:

  • User experience
  • Speed
  • Extra features
  • Special offers
  • Brand loyalty

Brand loyalty has struck a nerve, especially with millennials, who have embraced in-app shopping with open arms. 61% say they have downloaded retail shopping apps, and 58% prefer buying stuff via an app.

The process starts with an initial visit to a website. After buying a few things through what is likely to be a clunky checkout process (and ends up with an abandoned cart in many cases), the user decides to download the branded app and shop that way. It becomes apparent quickly that the app is far more attuned to the shopper’s needs and preferences.

Rinse and repeat. Before you know it, you have a playing field heavily tilted toward apps.

The bottom line is that mobile apps close the deal with consumers. Shoppers view 4 times more products on apps when compared to mobile sites. They buy something 3 times more than a mobile site and even 1.5 times more than that old reliable sales horse, the desktop.

When it comes to mobile traffic, apps have a decided advantage that is unlikely to turn around. 

Mobile Traffic and Geography

It is undeniably a US-centric world when it comes to analyzing tech. The interesting thing is that taken as a region, the US ranks nowhere near the top when it comes to several key mobile stats and does no better than the lower to middle of the pack.

Let’s look at the Proportion of Mobile Internet Traffic. This metric measures how much of a country’s total internet traffic is of the mobile variety. Africa leads the world by a long shot here, with Nigeria at 81.43%, followed closely by India at 75.96%.

Even the lowest-scoring African nations of Egypt (67.66%) and Morocco (52.51%) outrank the US (47.57%). The US doesn’t even score the highest in North America, with Mexico logging in at 52.88%.

Where the Fastest Connections Are

When it comes to mobile internet, the complaint has typically been about speed or lack thereof. Still, things are changing, especially in Asia and the Middle East, where mobile internet has become speedy. Much of it concerns the 5G network global expansion and its promised speed increase.

But even more of an effect can be credited to a dedication to building out a fast infrastructure. For all practical purposes, mobile internet is the primary internet in these countries, so it stands to reason they will make it as fast as they can.

Let’s take a look at a couple of metrics.

The Mobile Internet Penetration Rate and the Fastest Mobile Internet Speeds are inexorably linked. In other words, countries with high mobile penetration rates tend to have fast mobile internet. This is not surprising since it is reasonable to assume that high national mobile coverage rates go hand in hand with high-end mobile technology.

When it comes to penetration rates, here are the top five.

  1. Bahrain | 98.11% 
  2. UAE | 95.56%
  3. Kuwait | 94.21%
  4. Japan | 92.16%
  5. Taiwan | 92.01% 

And the top five fastest mobile connections.

  1. UAE | 273.87 Mbps
  2. South Korea | 214.47 Mbps
  3. Qatar | 178.83 Mbps
  4. Norway | 178.70 Mbps
  5. Kuwait | 170.67 Mbps

Using the Most Data

In a departure from the geography linked to fast mobile internet, the countries that use the most data per person are strongly European. Korea is the only nation in the top ten that isn’t in Europe. Here’s the list.

  1. Finland | 15.45 GB 
  2. Austria | 11.17 GB
  3. Estonia | 7.16 GB
  4. Latvia | 6.73 GB
  5. Lithuania | 6.57 GB
  6. Denmark | 5.7 GB
  7. Sweden | 5.7 GB
  8. Iceland | 5.57 GB
  9. Korea | 5.11 GB
  10. Ireland | 4.69 GB

The US doesn’t even make the list with a per capita use of data at 3.03 GB. It might be no coincidence that list-leading Finland has some of the cheapest mobile data costs anywhere, at $1.16 per GB.

Final Thoughts

What we’ve (hopefully) presented throughout this article is a unified theme about the impact of mobile use and the accompanying mobile traffic stats in the world today. The desktop is essentially dead. Okay, not really dead, but the tide has turned towards a more mobile internet.

And if you think today’s internet has gone mobile, check back in ten years. By that time, desktops might really be artifacts in a museum. So, what does all of this mean? Depending on how you use the internet, it could mean radically different things to different people. Are you a simple browser/shopper? Do you own a hobby website? Do you sell products or services online?

It is critical to identify what effect the increasingly mobile nature of the internet will have on your corner of the web and make adjustments accordingly. 

The thing to keep in mind is that, as monumental as the changes seem now, mobile internet is just getting started. Climb aboard, hang on, and keep your toes inside the compartment.