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New data hogs in the pen: Sprint smart-phone users

Consumer Reports News: August 17, 2011 10:53 AM

Sprint’s improving cellular service left AT&T in the dust in our 2011 Ratings (available to subscribers). But now the Kansas-based carrier’s smart-phone users have taken the blue-ribbon prize away from AT&T’s data hogs.

The median (or midpoint) Sprint smart-phone user consumes 371MB of data per month, more than twice that of AT&T smart-phone users, according to a new study of 47,000 phone bills from July, 2010 to June, 2011. The study was conducted by Validas, a company that advises consumers and businesses as to which cellular plans meet their needs, based on their actual voice, messaging, and data usage.

Sprint smart-phone users also significantly surpass subscribers to the other big-four carriers on average data consumption, at nearly 780MB per month.

Dylan Breslin-Barnhart, the Validas consumer-product evangelist who crunched the numbers for us, attributes the data-use differences to Sprint’s faster-4G-network leadership, which enables users to download data at up to 10 times the speed of today’s 3G networks. And faster downloading no doubt encourages more data use.

Here’s the full comparison:

Carrier Average smart-phone MB/month Median smart-phone MB/month

Given this new information, Sprint deserves kudos for continuing to offer unlimited data service, while its competitors now sell metered plans.

Jeff Blyskal

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