Consumer demand for data services on mobile phones, such as accessing email or browsing the Web on the go, is rising despite the global economic downturn, a survey released Monday found.

The survey of 50,000 consumers in Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Spain and the United States found that more than half of those who already use mobile data expect to use it more often in the next two years.

More significantly, according to the research more than a quarter of the millions of consumers who do not use mobile data services today intend to start using them shortly, said Jesse Goranson of The Nielsen Company, which carried out the survey.

The survey was commissioned by Nasdaq-listed network gear supplier Tellabs and conducted in November, when consumers were already aware of the worsening economic outlook.

Ben McCahill, director of mobile strategy at Tellabs, said mobile data -- one of the growth drivers for telecoms operators in mature markets where nearly every consumer already has a cell phone -- was clearly here to stay.

Given that this was done well into the recession, I think that this is very positive news for operators -- there is a large and increasing opportunity out there, he said.

Tellabs sells gear that mobile operators use to direct traffic between cell sites.

Industry group GSMA said last week that some 100 million subscribers worldwide already use high-speed data services on mobile phone networks.

The figure reflects the popularity of dongles which connect laptops to the Internet via mobile phone networks, as well as phones with high-speed data connections made by Nokia or HTC or the latest version of Apple's iPhone.