European Wireless Carriers Miffed by iPhone Data Usage

Could it be revenge for Apple's suggestion that iPhones carry embedded SIM cards? European wireless carriers are concerned about the heavy bandwidth-usage devices operating on their networks, and have suggested that companies like Apple pay for network upgrades. It's no secret that iPhone owners download a lot of data.

What's new is that wireless carriers including France Telecom, Telecom Italia, and Vodafone are suggesting that Apple, Facebook, Google and Yahoo among others pay a usage-based fee on their networks. Wireless companies are worried that as mobile usage grows and per-customer revenue decreases, the cost of providing adequate network upgrades may overwhelm their business model.

According to the carriers, companies like Apple have no incentive to help reduce costs due to ballooning data usage rates on mobile devices. For its part, Apple contends that it doesn't share in the wireless carriers' profits and therefore should not be responsible for contributing to infrastructure development.

Fanning the flames today is Arieso's report on mobile network data usage. The study used iPhone 3G data consumption rates as a baseline and determined that iPhone 4 owners download a whopping 41 percent more data with their handsets. They also stay connected to the wireless network 67 percent longer than their iPhone 3G peers, and make 44 percent more data calls using their iPhone 4.

Android phones sucked even more data from wireless providers than the iPhone, with the Samsung Galaxy and HTC Desire two of the worst offenders. Gone are the days when it was easy to point the finger at iPhone owners for heavy bandwidth usage. This is the problem that the European carriers are trying to address: everyone with every type of device is socking their networks to access sites like Facebook and Google on the go.