Arieso – a company that specializes in optimizing mobile networks and improving mobile network performance has published a special report titled “Recent Smartphone Trends & the Extreme Data User”. Arieso conducted this survey on a Tier-I market (which could be any of the developed countries or a combination of urban cities from western world). Also, the study was performed over 100 smartphones and non-smartphone devices each of which is represented by 1000 users. So, all-in-all 100,000 users were sampled. Based on the smartphone usage data and mobile network traffic consumption pattern by the smartphone users, they have discovered some astounding patterns:
- Just 1% of smartphone users consume roughly half of the mobile downlink data. Think about this for a minute. The mobile operators have to work that much harder to keep up with the demands of this 1% extreme power users!
- There is an explosive growth in mobile data consumption, placing an unprecedented pressure on mobile networks and operators.
- iPhone 4S users are the most demanding smartphone users, consuming as much as 2 times data as of iPhone 4 users and 3 times as much data as iPhone 3GS users. This is not surprising because iPhone users are one of the most active users even in photo sharing websites such as flickr and picassa. For instance, the flickr camera statitics reveals that iPhone 4 is the most popular camera used by the flickr community. Think about this. Other popular cameras such as Nikon D90, Canon Mark II, Canon Rebel T2i and Canon EOS 7D rank lower. Even among the popular camera smartphones iPhone 4, iPhone 3G and iPhone 4S and iPhone 3GS occupy the top 4 slots. Only HTC EVO 4G is the non-apple phone in the top-5 list.
- The smartphone penetration is increasing and the smartphone usage pattern is becoming more demanding. A deadly combination. It’s about time Mobile networks wake up and invest accordingly.
The study rationalizes the finding by claiming that the devices such as iPhone 4S have advanced hardware and networking capabilities including 8 MP Camera, A5 processor, 1080p HD Video capturing, iCloud processing. All these photo sharing, social networking, video watching, video uploading, multi-user online gaming is placing a tremendous pressure on the mobile networks.
Dr. Michael Flanagan, CTO of Arieso summarizes: “The introduction of increasingly sophisticated devices, coupled with growing consumer demand, is creating unrelenting pressure on mobile networks. 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”.
“While the report provides general trends, the studies on which they’re based demonstrate the importance to operators of understanding the increased consumption each type of smartphone brings. Despite stark industry warnings, mobile operators are still playing ‘Guess Who?’ with their subscribers,” continued Flanagan.
“Without adequately preparing networks to support the new generation of smart devices, operators risk spiralling and misplaced operational expenditure and delivering a sub-par quality of experience to customers. It’s critical that operators redouble their efforts to limit the impact of this inevitable squeeze.”
Mobile Operator’s Response and Strategy
Mobile Operators have been employing a wide variety of strategies to tackled the demands of the extreme users. One of the most popular ways is data throttling wherein the data transfer rate is dropped once a threshold data transfer limit has been reached. Second strategy is to price it in such a way that the extreme users take a note before downloading ruthlessly! Sometimes, the mobile operators place a restriction on certain apps and websites that they claim to be consuming a large amount of data. Most recently, operators are deploying micro cells across areas where the extreme users reside. These micro cells essentially offloads the mobile traffic to fixed line.