Introduction of LTE improves customer experience, doesn't drive new usage behaviour
There has been an almost complete shift from voice to data on mobile traffic, according to a new study.
The research on mobile traffic from Amdocs, provider of customer experience systems and services, highlights the urgency for service providers to build and optimise mobile networks to assure network performance and quality, increasing customer satisfaction and creating new revenue opportunities.
Share of network traffic from data has grown to 98%, up from 90% in the previous 12 month period. The growth demonstrates subscribers' overwhelming use of smartphones and tablets to consume and share content, said Amdocs.
However, data demand has led to an increase in dropped calls; the stress placed on networks has created an increase in customer experience issues as network demand grows, with dropped data and voice calls increasing by 121% over the period. The most stressed locations showed a 17% dropped call rate. While these figures give a stark reminder of the ever-increasing load carried by the RAN, the level to which individual customers were impacted often depended on their choice of mobile handset.
Top customer frustrations to do with data traffic include: Lack of data coverage (47%); monthly limits (30%) and download costs (16%).
Despite voice calls also increasing by 16%, the greatest shift was to indoor usage; the period saw an increase of mobile phone usage in-building by 33%. With indoor data users experiencing up to a 50% drop in data throughput, Amdocs claimed this shift will have a significant impact on customer experience.
The study shows that LTE improves the customer experience but does not increase data traffic exponentially. The time to establish an LTE data session is less than half that of 3G, delivering a data experience that is much closer to home broadband. Although LTE drives some increase in data consumption, high bandwidth data consumption (eg video) did not increase, indicating that usage patterns, potentially governed by data plans, remain little different from 3G networks.
'The research shows that the move to LTE 4G provides an opportunity to improve the customer experience without exponentially increasing data demand,' said Rebecca Prudhomme, vice president of product and solutions marketing at Amdocs. 'Service providers need to address this challenge by implementing planning and optimisation solutions to manage an increasingly active subscriber base that not only wants to consume data but produce and share it in real time.'
The annual State of the Radio Access Network (RAN) whitepaper includes analysis of more than four million voice and data connections from more than 100,000 mobile devices at some of the busiest network locations around the world in the past twelve months. The radio access network provides wireless mobile connection for phones and tablets, using a combination of technologies, including small cells and macro cells, utilising 3G, 4G (LTE) and Wi-Fi (for data).