What is your smartphone is doing?

By studying real-world data from eight network operators across four continents, Actix has found that on average only 30% of data sessions are user initiated – and the majority of failed data sessions happen without the user even noticing.

For the study Actix looked at over 25 of the top handsets including: Apple iPhones (3Gs, 4, 4s, 5), Samsung Galaxies (S, S II, S III, Note and Y), Blackberrys (9300, 9320, 9700, 9780, 9800 and 9900) HTC (Desire: HD, S, Z, One X, Sensation and Wildfire S) and Nokia Lumias (610, 710, 800, 900).

In mature markets smartphones account for nearly 85% of network data traffic, these ‘always on’ devices are making up to 10 connections per hour with apps such as Facebook, Twitter and mail constantly checking in for update. This constant polling for updates is creating network strain and challenging operators who are striving to provide capacity in areas where subscribers are not intentionally using their devices.

“Smartphones make between 3-10 data connections per hour and even though 60-70% of these are less than 50 Kbytes in size they can put a real strain on the network,” said Neil Coleman, Director of Marketing at Actix.

This also creates a significant customer experience challenge. Operators see a significant number of failed data connections yet are unable to quantify the impact on the subscriber experience. Actix estimates that 80% of these failed data connections happen without the user even noticing.

“Whilst working with one major UK operator we spotted a significant number of dropped data sessions right by the entrance to a tube station. This wasn’t the case of subscribers receiving poor browsing or video performance it was simply that background updates failed as subscribers entered the station,“ added Coleman.

Addressing both the network loading and customer experience problems requires operators to build a detailed picture of subscriber experience and network performance. Actix helps operators to establish where data sessions are user initiated and where they need to focus limited coverage and capacity. This information can also be used by operators to help device and app developers tailor their offerings to improve customer experience.

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