Google Android phones biggest network hogs: study

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Users of Google’s Android phones, such as Samsung’s Galaxy S, use more data services than those with other smartphones, threatening to choke wireless network capacity, an industry study showed.

A T-Mobile employee holds a new android-based smartphone in London September 3, 2009. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

The growing popularity of Android-operated phones -- made by companies including Asian vendors HTC Corp and Samsung Electronics -- comes as handsets look set to overtake computers as the most used device for browsing the Web.

Wireless operators are keen on raising revenue from Internet browsing and the social networking boom as revenue from traditional voice calls decline, but they are facing increasingly congested networks.

Fearful of losing customers, only a few operators have publicly admitted to the problem of keeping pace with data traffic, but the majority is experiencing difficulties.

The study by telecom network technology firm Arieso showed that customers with Android phones are creating more data traffic mostly due to better cameras and video recorders, and software for editing the footage.

“When more could be done, more tends to be done,” said Arieso’s Chief Technology Officer Michael Flanagan.

“Smartphone subscriptions are rising and so too is subscriber appetite for mobile data. It’s a trend that’s set to continue.”

Android software, offered free to cellphone vendors, has grown strongly since coming to market two years ago.

Globally Android usage ranked second in the last quarter, beating Apple’s iPhone and Research In Motion, but still trailing Nokia’s Symbian. Analysts expect it to become the leading operating system next year.

Mobile data usage has rocketed since the introduction of Apple Inc’s iPhone in 2007, with usage of data networks seen roughly doubling each year.

“What operators are really suffering from is the fact that popularity of smartphones came too quickly,” said Lance Hiley, VP of market strategy at telecoms network technology provider Cambridge Broadband Networks.

Telecoms gear makers Ericsson, Nokia Siemens and Alcatel-Lucent, which have struggled in recent years in the face of aggressive pricing by Asian rivals, expect rising data traffic to lead to new orders.

Editing by Louise Heavens