The latest survey of Web video usage from Bytemobile shows that smartphone users are watching it in ever-larger quantities. Currently, most video is low-resolution, user-created videos on sites such as YouTube. But even a slight increase in high-res content eats dramatically into cellular network capacity.
Bytemobile's quarterly reports are based on usage data pulled from its extensive list of mobile operators using the vendor's IP-based mobile content platform.
The latest data suggests that users are very aware of their wireless carrier's perceived end-to-end performance, and they select higher-resolution video whenever they think the network will support it. The full report is available online.
For the third calendar quarter, the Bytemobile data shows:
* User-generated videos on YouTube and Google on average are about 48% of total network video traffic (adult content is 31% of the total)
* In 57% of the cases, users select low-resolution video at 240 pixels (the rest is split almost evenly between 320p and 480p), mainly to avoid stalling.
* Yet, higher-resolution video generates nearly the same total data traffic as lower-res: 39% for the 240p content, and 31% for the higher res content.
* Users' perception of available bandwidth affects which resolution they pick, and the overall load on the network. Video traffic on wireless networks with slower end-to-end speeds averages 39% of total data traffic; it averages nearly 60% on networks with higher available throughput.
* Video content is already a significant percentage of smartphone data traffic, with iPhone users currently generating more of it than Android: For iPhone users on average, 42% of their total data traffic is video; the number for Android user is 32%.
* Video traffic picks up and grows steadily throughout the day, but the peak hours are in the evening, which also tracks the distribution of mobile users. Bytemobile says this indicates video is increasingly an entertainment-based selection, outside of work hours.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.
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