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Phone data usage growth is slow in the US, despite unlimited data

At least it was faster than in Greece and Canada.

Woman paying bills by phone
Mobile data usage growth is slow in the US, report says.
Peter Cade/Getty Images

Mobile data isn't exactly on the fast road to growth in the US these days.

A Tefficient report published on Tuesday said in 2017 the US had one of the lowest rates of growth in mobile data usage, 11 percent, across the world. Only Greece (8 percent) and Canada (6 percent) had a lower rate of growth. Hong Kong  (17 percent) and Latvia (13 percent) rounded out the bottom five.

Tefficient found the US results "surprising," given the wide availability of unlimited data plans. In Hong Kong, meanwhile, abundant Wi-Fi networks likely offloaded much mobile data traffic, and in Canada there may be a connection between low usage and mobile providers' high revenue per consumed gigabyte, according to the report.

Fredrik Jungermann, managing director and founder of Tefficient, said in an email that several things could have contributed to the slow growth in the US.

A main reason, he said, could be restrictions on internet speeds, which would hamper downloads and streaming. Another factor could be that the unlimited plans are too expensive for some consumers, who opted for lower-cost plans from services like MetroPCS and Virgin. Wi-Fi availability may also have been a culprit.

Some of the highest-growth countries were India at 303 percent, Lithuania at 181 percent and China at 152 percent. 

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