Some mobile apps use up to 115MB of data per hour, according to a survey commissioned by Virgin Media Business. The study of the top 50 free iPhone apps found the average consumption was 0.89MB in a five minute period, climbing to 10.7MB in an hour. With smartphone owners typically using apps for 667 minutes per month, this equates to usage of 119MB per month, or 1.4GB per year.

The survey noted a wide variation between apps. For example, Tap Zoo, from developer Pocket Gems, consumed 9.6MB of data in five minutes and 115MB in an hour, making it 75,579 percent more data-hungry than its lowest-bandwidth counterpart, which used “a mere 13KB in a five minute period.”

George Wareing, Head of Mobile and Broadcast at Virgin Media Business, said: “As apps become more sophisticated, and businesses look to develop their own applications for employees to use, problems with mobile networks getting clogged up will only intensify. With data traffic almost doubling in 2010 and smartphone sales set to increase by 50 per cent in 2011, mobile operators really need to think about how they can manage the data explosion as millions more join the smartphone revolution.”