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Global Mobile Broadband Traffic Overtakes Voice as User Satisfaction Drops

Posted: 25th Mar, 2010 By: MarkJ
mobile broadband logoA global survey commissioned by Nokia Siemens Networks has unsurprisingly revealed that Mobile Broadband users are 22% less satisfied with their service than fixed line broadband users. The results come on a day when Ericsson, the mobile equipment manufacturer, has revealed that global mobile data traffic, across all networks, exceeded the volume of voice calls for the first time.

Ericsson reported that the milestone occurred during December when a staggering 140000TB (TeraBytes) of data, such as websites, emails and online videos, was handle by mobile operators. Using a different description, some 400 Million Mobile Broadband users were generating more traffic than 4.6 Billion overall mobile users around the world.

However the revenue from Mobile Broadband services has not been able to keep up with rising data usage, especially in countries like the UK where we have some of the most affordable mobile internet services in the world. This, when combined with the poor capacity management of existing services, often leads to a lot of dissatisfied users.

Jürgen Walter, head of Business Solutions, Nokia Siemens Networks, said:

"At a time when mobile broadband is set to grow at a scorching pace, these findings are a wake up call for the industry. Indeed, with the increased availability and use of smart devices, operators cannot afford to lose any opportunity to make the experience on their networks comparable to that of their fixed-line counterparts."

Concerns with both the raw speed and connection reliability of Mobile Broadband services came top among user gripes. The most common mobile internet activity is website browsing, with 92% of survey respondents saying they surf the web on their mobiles at least once a month; email came next with 81%.

The survey also found that almost half of all mobile device owners are expected to connect to the internet through a mobile network in 2010. In other words, the problem could get worse before it gets better. Thankfully there are solutions on the way, such as the faster speeds (150Mbps - 1000Mbps) promised by 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology, which should start replacing current 3G HSPA tech sometime over the next couple of years.

ericsson_hspa_to_lte_speed_chart.jpg

LTE is certainly going to be a lot better at latency and handling multiple users, which has been a weak point of HSPA and older 3G or even 2G technologies; if you get too many people trying to go online in one area then the network can quickly before slow or even unworkable.

Most current UK HSPA deployments can deliver speeds of up to 7.2Mbps, yet consumers usually see, at best, just 25% of that; the actual average UK speed is just over 1Mbps! However as the chart above shows, real-world LTE speeds will not be perfect and operators need to invest a lot more money into capacity. Failing to do this could mean that the distance between what is advertised and what is delivered becomes truly ridiculous.
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