siri-iphone-4s-adA new study suggests that Siri, the well-advertised voice assistant for the iPhone 4S, actually doubles the mobile data usage for those who take advantage of it.

The study by Atlanta-based mobile network monitoring firm Arieso said that iPhone 4S owners use twice as much data as iPhone 4 owners and three times as much data as iPhone 3GS users. In an interview with Bloomberg, Arieso CTO Michael Flanagan specifically calls out Siri for helping these owners use more data.

Increased usage from Siri, as well as other data-intensive features, is indicative of a larger problem: smartphones are placing a new level of pressure on mobile broadband networks around the world.

“The introduction of increasingly sophisticated devices, coupled with growing consumer demand, is creating unrelenting pressure on mobile networks,” said Flanagan, in the study. “The capacity crunch is still a very real threat for mobile operators, and it looks set to only get harder in 2012. The mobile industry needs new investment and new approaches to boost network performance and manage the customer experience.”

Arieso also said that “extreme users,” the top 1 percent of data hogs, are using up half of all downloaded data. Yesterday, Sprint got in a little hot water for admitting it slows down data usage for the top 1 percent, even though the company advertises a “truly unlimited data” plan.

Arieso believes the data usage issues will only get worse before they get better. The company says mobile carriers need to immediately invest in further network improvements to help keep up with this new level of demand.

“Without adequately preparing networks to support the new generation of smart devices, operators risk spiraling and misplaced operational expenditure and delivering a sub-par quality of experience to customers,” Flanagan said. “It’s critical that operators redouble their efforts to limit the impact of this inevitable squeeze.”

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