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The implementation of 3G networks marked a sea change in the way consumers could use their mobile devices—opening up a new world of services, allowing for the speedy delivery of myriad forms of content and providing the infrastructure to support the mobile app ecosystem, according to a new eMarketer report, “The 4G Factor: Faster Mobile Networks Fuel Content Consumption.” Does the advent of 4G networks hold the same promise?
From a global perspective, 4G networks are still in the early stage of adoption. 451 Research forecast that 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) connections would total 356 million this year. But this was also expected to grow dramatically over the next few years, nearing 1.41 billion in 2018.
In simple terms, 4G networks effectively widen the data pipeline for users, allowing consumers to engage in a myriad of increasingly data-intensive activities. Not surprisingly, users on 4G networks have responded to faster network speeds by consuming greater amounts of data. According to Cisco Systems’ “Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2013-2018,” a 4G connection, on average, generated 14.5 times as much traffic as a non-4G connection.
The higher overall rates of data consumption by 4G users have distinct implications for advertisers and marketers with regard to the types of media mobile users consume. Faster download speeds and greater bandwidth can open the doors for a range of new possibilities in various areas, such as rich media campaigns. But widespread 4G will likely have the greatest effect on mobile video consumption, which has already become a standard element of mobile behavior in well-developed mobile markets.
A September 2014 report from Citrix found mobile users worldwide had heavy interest in video, noting it accounted for 52% of all mobile traffic, including 4G and 3G networks. But 4G users also displayed a demand for video that far exceeded their 3G counterparts. There were 1.5 times as many requests for video over 4G LTE networks than on 3G networks, and those requests resulted in five times as much video data traffic on 4G compared with 3G. Increased video consumption has also been fostered by improved and larger displays, along with new, faster processors.
Citrix also saw more requests for content on Netflix from 4G users than 3G users. The implication: Consumers on faster networks are more likely to watch longer videos.
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