It takes far fewer “data hogs” on 4G than 3G to gobble up around half the data downloaded on the network. According to a report published by JDSU’s Location Intelligence Business Unit (formerly Arieso), one in every 1,000 LTE users consumes about 50 per cent of all downloaded data on 4G networks. On 3G one in every hundred chew up half the downlink traffic.

That’s not to say, of course, that all 4G users are 10 times more data hungry than all 3G users.

“We are comparing heavy 4G users with heavy 3G users,” Dr Flanagan, CTO of mobility at JDSU and author of the study, told Mobile World Live.

“One would expect a honeymoon period in which early adopters test their toys,” added Flanagan. “But for [extreme] 4G users to consistently exhibit behaviour 10 times more extreme than [heavy] 3G users well after launch constitutes a seismic shift in the data landscape. This has important ramifications for future network designs.”

Flanagan argued that, based on these statistics, there is reason for operators to be optimistic as they can reduce their LTE small cell and Wi-Fi access point requirements compared with 3G.

This is because there are ten times fewer heavy data users than 3G (in terms of snaffling up around half the data on the network).

As such, the placement of small cells where extreme LTE users are located requires one-tenth the number of small cells to achieve the same level of off-load – around 50 per cent of all download traffic – compared with 3G.

“The fact that 0.1 per cent of 4G subscribers consume half of the data may prompt operators to identify extreme users,” continued Flanagan. “This, in turn, may make it easier to deploy small cell and Wi-Fi access points to ease network congestion. However, the accuracy of these placements should be of paramount importance to operators due to the limited range of the small cells and Wi-Fi.”

Apple users still the most data hungry

When it comes to downloading data, the report also finds Apple device users are still much greedier than those using other models.

The report is in its fourth consecutive year and, as in previous years, Apple dominates the download charts (see table below) when comparing data usage with the iPhone 3G (used as a benchmark in the report).

“The surprise is it isn’t surprising,” said Flanagan.

Last year’s report indicated a possible end to Apple’s dominance as Galaxy S III users closed the gap. However, the highest position that Samsung can muster this year in developed markets is ninth (with its Galaxy S4 smartphone).

iPhone 5s users consume seven times as much data as benchmark iPhone 3G users in developed markets, and 20 times as much data as benchmark iPhone 3G users in developing markets.

On the uplink, the picture is more mixed. HTC devices (Sensation and Desire S) and Samsung’s Galaxy S4 join Apple’s iPad (4th generation) in the top four in developed markets.

The research does not attempt to explain why Apple dominates the downlink but not so much on the uplink.

JDSU Developed Markets Top 10 Data Consuming Devices 2014 js