A recent study from Validas, an online service that optimizes wireless bills for business and government agencies, showed that consumer data usage is steadily on the rise. They focus their analysis on four major carriers, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, though most of the discussion is between Verizon and AT&T. What is interesting is that much of the study conducted excluded BlackBerry Smartphone. Why would they NOT include BlackBerry? Due to data compression techniques, BlackBerrys "do not follow similar data consumption patterns to those of iPhones and other Smartphones."

Some may wonder how this study affects us, but by now, most of us have heard how some of the major carriers are no longer providing unlimited data plans and others are thinking about following suit. The purpose of Validas' analysis is to help businesses optimize wireless bills and cut costs, thus it effects each and every one of us.

Were there any studies conducted that included BlackBerry usage? Yes there were, and we will delve into that a little bit also.

One of the main reasons of increasing data usage in the past year is the explosion of new smartphones hitting the market, as well as increasing interest and demand by consumers. This study came from more than 20,000 consumer wireless bills dated between January and May of 2010. Below are some highlights:

Growth in data users between 2009 and 2010 increased from 42% to 53% of total subscribers. Increase in mean MB usage per user from 96.8 MB to 145.8 MB.
New Smartphones, not the iPhone or BlackBerry, had the greatest increases in usage, with an increased mean consumption per user from 139 MBs to 415 MBs, and 87% of subscribers with usage to 94% of subscribers.
Mean data consumption among aircard users grows 8% from 1,373.3MBs to 1,485.2MBs
Increase in data users among feature phones from 27.3% to 36.7% with an increase in mean data consumption from 46.1 MBs to 67.9 MBs
Verizon Wireless posts the largest percentage increase in mean data usage per user from 48.2MB to 147.2 MB; increase from 33.4% to 42.9% lines with data usage
T-Mobile second largest percentage increase in mean data usage per user, from 44.6 MB to 120.6 MB, but virtually no growth in overall percentage of lines with data usage
Sprint increased from 36.9% of lines with data usage to 49.9%, but mean usage per user decreased from 166.5 MB to 133.4 MB due to increase in % of users consuming 50MBs or less per month
AT&T continues to lead with 71.2% of users with data usage, up from 58.4%, with increase in mean usage per user from 111.9 MB to 149.6 MB
VZW posted largest increase in aircard/laptop card mean usage per user, from 1.25 GB to 1.6 GB

Another interesting find is that Verizon Wireless Smartphones are using more data than AT&T iPhones by a ratio of roughly 1.25:1. Average data usage for Verizon is 421 megabytes per month. iPhones use 338 megabytes per month.
Ed Finegold, Executive Vice President-Analytics, for Validas states that "Nearly twice as many Verizon Wireless Smartphone users are consuming 500 megabytes to 1 gigabyte per month compared to AT&T iPhone users."

The study also shows that an average of 54% of VZW Smartphones use less than 200 MB per month and the other 46% use more than 200 MB per month. More than 4% use 2 gigs or more per month. The iphone averages 52% using less than 200 MB per month and 48% using more. 1.6% use 2 gigs or more a month.

What about BlackBerry Smartphone usage? Remember that they were excluded because of their data compression techniques. With that in mind, this study between AT&T and VZW BlackBerry users is very interesting. Using statistics from 2,245 AT&T customers and 2,398 VZW customers, VZW BlackBerry users are using actually paying less while using more data than AT&T customers! This includes voice, data and text messaging. Notice the findings below:

VZW BlackBerry users are actually generating higher mean usage but less mean charges overall. "Mean" relates to the overall group of users and what they are using. If you look below, it shows VZW BlackBerry customers usage quite a bit higher than AT&T.

What can we take from all this? Verizon offers more for the money? It offers both companies to take a good look at how they are operating and adjust accordingly. It also helps us, the average consumer, to take a hard look at how we are spending and adjust accordingly. Are you looking to save a little money? What does your provider offer you?