The World’s Most Used Apps, By Downstream Traffic

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The World’s Most Used Apps by Downstream Traffic

The World’s Most Used Apps, by Downstream Traffic

Of the millions of apps available around the world, just a small handful of the most used apps dominate global internet traffic.

Everything connected to the internet takes bandwidth to view. When you look at something on your smartphone—whether it’s a new message on Instagram or the next few seconds of a YouTube video—your device is downloading the data in the background.

And the bigger the files, the more bandwidth is utilized. Here’s a breakdown of the most used apps by category, using Sandvine’s global mobile traffic report for 2021 Q1.

Video Drives Global Mobile Internet Traffic

The biggest files use the most data, and video files take the cake.

According to Android Central, streaming video ranges from about 0.7GB per hour of data for a 480p video to 1.5GB per hour for 1080. A 4K stream, the highest resolution currently offered by most providers, uses around 7.2GB per hour.

That’s miles bigger than audio files, where high-quality 320kbps music streams use an average of just 0.12GB per hour. Social network messages are usually just a few KB, while the pictures found on them can range from a few hundred KB for a low-resolution image to hundreds of MB for high resolution.

Understandably, breaking down mobile downstream traffic by app category shows that video is on top by a long shot:

Category Downstream Traffic Share (2021 Q1)
Video Streaming 48.9%
Social Networking 19.3%
Web 13.1%
Messaging 6.7%
Gaming 4.3%
Marketplace 4.1%
File Sharing 1.3%
Cloud 1.1%
VPN and Security 0.9%
Audio 0.2%

Video streaming accounts for almost half of mobile downstream traffic worldwide at 49%. Audio streaming, including music and podcasts, accounts for just 0.2%.

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William K. 4 weeks ago Member's comment

It certainly appears that there needs to be a much higher charge for higher bandwidth use. That would be appropriate because the high bandwidth video is all "for profit" and not for useful communications. In addition, there are other paths available for all of that video, while the alternate paths for text aare fewer and not free, mostly.