Worldwide SMS usage hits peak usage in 2015......

Worldwide SMS usage hits peak usage in 2015......

Continuing on a tradition from 2014, but comprehensively detailed in 2015, I'm continuing to continue to update this on a six-monthly basis as it gives a good insight and overview into both the Irish communications trends. This year, I'm going to add some additional details around worldwide/global activities as it's a useful guide towards what 'might' happen going forward.



Voice traffic continues a slight increase over the year but nominal in all, within the bounds of average fluctuations. Unfortunately, there is no details of whether is IP-based calls (e.g. FaceTime, Whatsapp, Messenger, etc.) as suspect this number would skew this figure.


As above, MMS continues to be largely irrelevant in the wider context of total traffic, totalling 0.7% of all SMS/MMS (pre IP-based messaging traffic). Incidentally, the last two quarters of 2015 is the largest percentage share of traffic that MMS has ever held but only increasing as a symptom of the continued decline of SMS traffic. Is it time for MMS to follow the route of the floppy disk and a telecom operator to take the plunge with retiring the service? It could definitely be argued with much better experiences to be found on countless other services at present.....

In relation to SMS traffic, the spike caused over Q4 2014 was not seen this year, and shows a 15% drop over 2015 following on from a 12% in 2014 and 27% in 2013. In the last quarter of 2015, SMS dropped below 50% of its peak as seen at the end of 2011. 

It's worth noting people aren't messaging any less, the conversation has just been moving elsewhere (and correlates directly with the year of the peak in SMS) - see bottom of this article for more context on this.


Data continues it's inexorable rise in traffic, if a slight dip in the final quarter (attributed to mid winter and less mobile usage outdoors?). Overall, a 56% increase in usage since 2014 follows on from 83% spike in 2013-2014 and 44% in 2012-2013. Expect this trend to continue based on there still being....


Access Technologies

.....still being over 15% of the customer users still on 2G devices (22% in 2014), and 57% on 3G (67% in 2014) and the steady move to 4G, now with 27% of the user base (up from 11% in 2014). All indicators have shown that anyone user moving to 4G handset (17% rise from 2014) based on significantly improved experience uses a step-change amount of extra data. 4G subscribers shows strong growth however and only increasing.

50% on 4G and less than 10% on 2G anyone? This will lead to new discussions around are-allocation of frequencies as we move to an all ip-based world.


Average usage per user

Again, slow steady climb of voice call minutes displayed for users, not significant but steady. SMS again, evident in its decline from a peak of 200+ per user to slightly greater than 100/user. Data again shows the explosion (no clear accurate data prior to 2013 unfortunately) - a double in average usage since 2014 and a doubling again since 2013. Keeping in mind, that still 15% on 2G devices, there is still quite a bit of room to grow here on a total user perspective, as well as quite a bit of room to grow as more users consume more high-bandwidth traffic while on the go (e.g. the rise of live streaming of events, music, shows while commuting, etc. -Spotify and Netflix being two notable examples).

Interesting observation on usage: using publicly available figures from Apple on FaceTime traffic, they estimate about 1MB per minute of calls. Taking an average total call base of 3.5 hours, this would be 210MB of data. Again, as the all-IP world arrives, it could be argued that billing 'per minute' for calls should be re-visited and instead looked at from the perspective of treating all traffic as bits/data and billing as such....


Fixed Access

Again steady increase in speeds since beginning of 2013. Still concerning that 40% of users are still on broadband providing a maximum of 10-30Mbps in speeds but it is moving in the right direction. With disappointing news about the National Broadband Plan being delayed again until 2017, it will be interesting to see if this continues and what is given to those users trapped on sub-standard speeds.

A further piece will be to consider numbers of users in the category above 100Mbps. While seen as very strong number now, looking ahead to increasing users moving to streaming based TV (including both IPTV solutions from Operators as well as rising competition and new-world options from Netflix, Amazon Prime and soon to be released dedicated streaming channels from Producers themselves) as well as ultra-HD (4K) streaming requiring 25-50Mbps per channel, speeds in excess of 250Mbps will be required for households to get optimum experience.