Congress worries that virtual monsters are eating up data

Photo credit: Matthew Corley /

Photo credit: Matthew Corley /

The accidents and misadventures enthusiastic Pokemon Go players are becoming legendary, but several top congressmen want to know if the data consumed by those players pursuing the mobile augmented reality game's electronic critters is also reaching epic proportions.

Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), Diana DeGette (Col.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) sent a letter to the CEO of Niantic on July 19 asking some data-specific questions.  All three Democrats hold key roles on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Niantic keeps track of the data generated by the mobile game that has nearly doubled Nintendo's stock value since it was released on July 6. Nintendo and Niantic jointly developed Pokemon Go.

The letter quotes new reports that claim the game, which players may use outside their home WiFi networks in remote areas, could exhaust an average user's monthly mobile data plan in short order.

The legislators ask Niantic about what best practices it has to minimize the amount of data consumers use to play the game, as well as whether the company issued any warnings to consumers about the potential overages or whether the company has mechanisms in place to make sure customers "are made whole" if they are hit with monumental data overage charges.

A report from the mobile analytics firm P3 Insight, however,  found that the game "isn't eating up your data plan."  On average, the app uses 6MB of data per hour, according to their study of 300 users. Users, on average, play the game for 13 minute per day. On the other hand, the battery drain from Pokemon Go is heavy – causing mobile devices to lose about 30 percent of battery strength per hour.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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