T-Mobile reveals how customers’ phone usage has changed as they stay at home


As many people stay at home and practice social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak, the way that they use their phone is likely changing. Today T-Mobile shed some light on exactly how its customers are using their phones while quarantined at home.

T-Mobile says that people are messaging each other quite a bit more over the last two weeks, with a 26% increase in SMS texting and a 77% increase in MMS, which includes pictures and group chats. Even phone calls have become more popular, with people spending 17% more time on calls nationwide.

T-Mo customers have been using their phones more for other things, too. Smartphone mobile hotspot usage has increased 38% over the past couple of weeks, meaning people are using their phones to get their other devices online more, and video game traffic has grown 45%.

Finally, T-Mobile has found that its customers are heeding the advice to stay at home. In New York City, there’s been an 86% increase in subscribers that connect to cell sites only in their primary location, while in San Francisco there’s been a 77% increase. T-Mo reports that there are similar patterns of folks staying at home across the country.

If you’re wondering how the network itself is doing, T-Mobile says that traffic has grown over the last couple of weeks but that the network is handling it. T-Mo also says that it’s got employees monitoring its network traffic, including 911 calls, as well as a team of technicians that are ready to respond to any issues that may come up.

Have you been using your phone differently lately?

Source: T-Mobile

Tags: ,

  • David

    Keep up the good work T-Mobile!

  • MisterListerSir

    This is only the beginning stages. I would expect this to get much higher in the coming weeks.

    Interesting to find out how many businesses are “essential” during this period as well. Much of retail and manufacturing is still running, it seems.

    • Mike Smith

      I think that depends on where you are. In California, New York, and other states retail is closed except grocery stories and pharmacies.

      • MisterListerSir

        I was thinking more along the lines of WalMart, Target, etc, but you’re correct. The clarification was necessary.

        • Mike Smith

          The Wal-mart and Target near me are open but I think it’s because they have groceries too?

        • MisterListerSir


          Seems like many would be amazed to find out how interconnected that supply-chain is. The three major employers in my area are all manufacturing, but they supply to the food/medical markets and are thus considered essential. Lots of folks were surprised to find out making boxes was an essential activity. :)

          It’s a good thing for those people, they get to stay employed. Hopefully they get to stay healthy as well. I’ve lost count of the number of posts I’ve seen all over along the lines of, “Well, found out my job is essential today…”

          Good and bad, I suppose.

  • James Symmonds

    I’m impressed with their flexibility and capabilities of their network. I was worried during the Superbowl parade that their network would crumble under the crowd but I was able to do most of my normal stuff I’d do. Only thing I didn’t try is to send photos from my Fuji camera. So far during this, I haven’t had any hiccups.

    • Mike Smith

      Neville Ray is a savant, he took their last place network from worst to first leading in almost every technological metric. Really remarkable. While John Legere and his antics have grown stale Neville is the real genius.

    • the martian ambassador

      T-Mobile is temporarily using 600mhz spectrum from Dish and Comcast, which those companies own, but are not utilizing for at least the next 60 days due to the ChinaVirus crisis.

  • Rob_In_NJ

    Would have expected many people to be operating on home WiFi. I used 33% less mobile data on TMo in the Feb billing cycle (ending March 24) than prior months. Think I’ll be much less in the billing cycle just starting today. Seems like that will offset some people using their phone as mobile hotspots for work from home, streaming etc.

    • ugp5

      I think it is the drop in vehicle traffic that is offsetting in home cell phone usage in areas without wired access.

  • the martian ambassador

    I don’t have any home internet service, just 2 T-Mobile phone lines, so I do quite a bit of tethering. The 3G tethering speeds are perfectly fine for streaming SD quality Netflix to my desktop computer that is HDMI connected to the television. It does need to be the only thing that you are doing on that tethered device though.

    • Long George

      T Mobile has a home internet box. Provides 4G speed 50G of data for $50/mo and the box is free. I use it for YouTube TV. Works better than the phone.

      • Shakenbake

        50gigs of data, that’s it, for home internet?
        That’s disappointing if true. Any other ISP will cap you at 1tb.
        Things should change when they change to 5g

        • James White

          The LTE home internet is not capped. I been using it for 3 months now and hit upwards of 600gb. Mind you I have a family of 6 that are homeschooled with online classes.

        • Long George

          I have never gotten over 40G so that is good to know as a lot of us are a little more homebound theses days.

        • Long George

          It is they “might” throttle after 50G. We are talking “wireless”.

        • Bruce

          The 50mb is the download speed. There is supposedly no data caps.

      • the martian ambassador

        I do have, on one of my lines, the original One Plus International. That provides “unlimited” 4G tethering, but that is subject to the same potential prioritization after 50GB as any other line. The tethering and on phone data is seen as a single unit. I save that for when I’m teleworking and have to download files. It’s very fast at certain times of the day it can go up to about 40mbps. For just web browsing and SD streaming though, the 3G tethering is tolerable

    • marque2

      I get about 7 mb/s streaming. Can run the Roku and have the family look at web pages. But two full video streams would be difficult

  • Sharti24

    T-mobile should really put their network to the test these next 60 days by giving every line unlimited high speed phone/tablet data along with hotspot data (The 50gb Deprioritized limit would still be in effect). This would see what tmobile can handle now versus after the Sprint merger.