According to the latest market study by ABI Research, Western Europe's mobile service subscribers used 3,077 Exabytes in data traffic by the end of 2012 -- that's up by 39 percent compared to 2011.
3G mobile data usage contributed 64 percent of the total -- while 4G services are still attempting to gain more user adoption.
"Moreover, 50 percent of Western Europe has a 3G data plan and they are making full use of it," said Marina Lu, research associate at ABI Research.
Clearly, some of that data traffic is due to growth from over-the-top (OTT) software applications that have been downloaded into smartphones.
That being said, ABI believes that while mobile data usage is gathering pace, a number of other core metrics are very much in retreat.
In most countries around Europe, voice minutes of use has contracted up to 4.5 percent quarter-on-quarter. Similarly, text messaging was down between -0.5 percent and -7.8 percent for those countries quarter-on-quarter.
Furthermore, monthly average revenue for Western Europe continued to decline in 3Q-2012. This loss can be partly attributed to the economic climate within the region, but there are structural shifts in mobile end-user behavior.
Mobile network operators, such as Orange, are responding to the apparent growing over-the-top service threat to their business model. Orange will be launching in early 2013 a rich content service, named "Joyn."
Joyn is intended to help mobile operators go beyond outdated circuit-switched voice and SMS -- to embrace IP-based instant messaging, live video sharing, file transfer, and just as crucially, SMS integration.
Orange has rolled-out a click-to-call function in collaboration with Facebook, named "Party Call." This new service will be available from 1Q-2013 and will allow users to call friends from within Facebook.
As if introducing those innovative new services was not enough, Orange will also be launching a VoIP and IP Messaging app named "LibOn."
"Mobile network service providers do need to make sure they stay relevant to their customers in an over-the-top world," said Jake Saunders, VP forecasting at ABI Research.