Mobile data traffic has doubled over the last year, from the second quarter of 2010 to the second quarter of 2011, and users with modern, capable devices without spending limitations are increasingly using their smartphones to access the Internet.

This is according to findings of a new measurement from Ericsson, to be released as part of Akamai’s The State of the Internet report.

The second quarter of 2011 showed 8% growth, which reflects normal seasonal fluctuation. In more detail, the mobile data growth patterns reveal that the quality of a smartphone affects which applications people use and the length of time they surf the mobile internet.

As defined by Ericsson, an active smartphone user generates more than 1Mb of traffic per day. Factors including screen size, age and price of the smartphone have a stronger correlation with median traffic than operating system. It is notable that in North America, high-end smartphones generate twice the traffic than comparable smartphones at the operators analysed in Asia and Europe.

Johan Wibergh, head of Ericsson’s business unit networks, comments: “Our market research confirms that high-end smartphone users are increasingly accessing the internet on their phones. This underscores the importance of having networks that are smart, scaleable and provide superior performance to deliver on expected user experience.”

In addition, Ericsson has found that among heavy users, the cumulative data generated by video is significantly higher than for other activities. The top 5% to 10% of smartphone users are willing to spend up to 40 minutes a day watching online video.  However, the average user spends about 30 seconds a day watching online video.

The implication is that high-end users are driving traffic and demand for prioritized services.  Wibergh adds: “That is why we believe tiered pricing models in combination with traffic management are key for operators as well as consumers.”

The findings are based on Ericsson mobile broadband measurements during the second quarter of 2011 at four different operators in mature markets in Europe, Asia and North America. Ericsson’s presence in more than 180 countries, and its customer base representing more than 1 000 networks enables Ericsson to measure mobile voice and data volumes.  The result is a representative base for calculating world total mobile traffic in 2G, 3G, and 4G networks (not including DVB-H, WiFi, and Mobile WiMax).