I Can Use Up My Monthly Mobile Data Bucket in Less Than 3 Minutes

Compared to other countries in Europe, prices for mobile data services in Germany are still pretty high. A gigabyte of mobile data can be had for around 10 euros if you look around a bit (but still quite a difference for the unlimited amount of data you get for 18 Euros in Austria, for example). Anyway, how long does it take to use up this gigabyte?

In Germany, LTE is available at speeds up to 300 Mbit/s now when allowed by the contract and when being close to the center of a cell that has carrier aggregation with 2×20 MHz activated. If all those conditions are met, 1 GB of data can be downloaded in  in less than 30 seconds. But let's make a more realistic example, let's say I get 50 Mbit/s out of the link, which is not so unusual in many places. At that speed it takes around 3 minutes to use up my data bucket for the whole month if I really wanted to.

Now let's do an interesting thought experiment with that number: How many users could do that in one month with one base station site? A month with 30 days has 43.200 minutes. Divided by 3 gives you 14.400 users who could run that exercise sequentially. On the other hand, most cells have 3 sectors, each with an independent data stream so if those users are neatly distributed around the base station site that number goes up again. And now multiply that number by the average 1 GB data bucket price.

Of course networks are not fully loaded and due to interference from neighboring cells and distance from the base station not all users get 50 Mbit/s out of an unloaded cell. But even if the number is an order of a magnitude lower it is still impressive.