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Mobile data volumes soared during 2011 as more consumers adopted media tablets, dongles and smartphones, it has been suggested.

According to networking giant Cisco, mobile broadband usage more than doubled over the past year to reach 597 Petabytes per month - or 0.6 Exabytes.

This was up from just 237Pb per month in 2010, demonstrating the increasing appeal of mobile broadband services.

Cisco expects the trend to continue, with mobile data consumption reaching a phenomenal 10.8Eb per month by 2016.

Suraj Shetty, Cisco's Vice President of Product and Solutions Marketing, said that within five years, 60 per cent of mobile users will belong to the 'Gigabyte Club'.

This means they will each be generating more than 1GB of mobile data traffic per month, compared to just 0.5 per cent of consumers in 2011.

Mr Shetty added that this "impressive growth" in mobile traffic will be driven by more powerful devices, and using faster networks such as 4G and Wi-Fi to access more applications.

Rising mobile data consumption is heightening the need for the UK to press ahead with its 4G spectrum auction, which has been pencilled in for late 2012 by Ofcom.

Once spectrum in the 2.6GHz and 800MHz bands has been allocated, service providers will be able to introduce long-term evolution mobile broadband services. 

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