Data traffic on Western Europe’s mobile networks rose by 39% between 2011 and 2012, to 3,077 exabytes, according to a new report from ABI Research.
According to Marina Lu, a research associate at ABI, some 50% of subscribers in Western Europe are now on data plans and “making full use of it”.
With 4G “still attempting to find its feet”, 3G accounted for 64% of total traffic.
Despite the surging use of mobile data services, operators remain under serious pressure in other areas.
In most countries around Europe, says ABI, minutes of use have contracted by up to 4.5% between the second and third quarters of 2012, while text-messaging usage in the same markets fell between 0.5% and 7.8% over the same period.
Average revenue per user continues to fall, too, which ABI blames on structural shifts in mobile end-user behavior, besides the economic climate.
Operators across the region have suffered as customers substitute internet services for text messaging and voice calls, although a number of them have responded with the launch of joyn – a platform backed by the GSM Association that allows operators to provide IP-based internet messaging, live video sharing and file transfer.
Others are finding new ways of collaborating with web firms. Orange (Paris, France), for instance, is set to launch “Party Call” in the first quarter of 2013, allowing customers to call friends from within Facebook (Menlo Park, USA).
“Carriers do need to make sure they stay relevant to their customers in an OTT world,” said Jake Saunders, the vice president of forecasting for ABI.