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Smartphone users consume less data than expected

Most smartphone owners use up considerably less data per month than expected, with data hogs making up a small percentage, according to new data from Consumer Reports.

Despite concerns over the major carriers switching to limited data plans, most smartphone users don't consume nearly as much data as expected, according to a Consumer Reports story yesterday.

Analyzing information obtained from 23,000 consumer cell phone bills, Consumer Reports found that the average bill from February 2010 to February 2011 did show a fair amount of data consumed per month--274 megabytes for T-Mobile subscribers, 360MB for AT&T users, and 449MB for those on Verizon.

But that average was pulled higher by a small percentage of heavy data users and so doesn't give a truly accurate picture, according to the story. Looking instead at the median smartphone user (midpoint on the scale), the magazine found considerably less data use--48MB per month for T-Mobile users, 120MB for those on AT&T, and 158MB for Verizon subscribers.

The results indicate to Consumer Reports that most existing Verizon subscribers who stick with the company's all-you-can-eat plan for $30 a month and most new customers who choose the 2GB plan for $30 will end up in the same boat because neither group will get close to that 2GB threshold.

T-Mobile customers "who use only the median amount of data" and opt for the 200MB plan for $10 "will get the best price," Consumer Reports said. AT&T subscribers can get a 200MB plan for $15.

The move by T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon to tiered pricing leaves Sprint as the only major U.S. carrier to still offer unlimited data plans--at least for now.