In recent news, it has been revealed that more than half of UK consumers are unhappy with mobile broadband speeds. Poor performance affects their mobile broadband experience and, if speeds aren’t as expected, user dissatisfaction results.
According to Broadband Genie, a leading, independent consumer comparison site, this is probably due to advances in fixed broadband speeds: consumers are now enjoying faster and faster speeds in the home, but mobile broadband rates haven’t kept up. As we have often remarked, users increasingly expect their applications to perform the same wherever they are: and that means whether mobile or in the home.
Of course, LTE is still unavailable in the UK and there is no clear date for its launch, unlike in many other countries that have either launched operational services or have clear dates by which they will do so. Perhaps the uncertainty over LTE is limiting investment in capacity in the UK; while LTE plans are unclear, it may be that upgrades to existing infrastructure are delayed.
What has been overlooked, however, is the potential for operators to do more to optimise user experience with the resources they do have available. One of the problems is that upstream and downstream bandwidth is contended, so the available bandwidth is limited by what other users in the same cell are doing. This means that applications that don’t actually require a great deal of bandwidth to perform satisfactorily may be adversely impacted by others, simply because every active user is doing the same thing at the same time, or because a few users are consuming much more bandwidth than they really need. But not all applications need the same level of resources; with finite limitations, it becomes a zero sum game, with perhaps many competing applications taking more than the share of resources they really need.
But if operators can monitor application demands and performance they may be able to balance demands effectively. This can be achieved by provisioning smart phones and dongle-enabled devices with smart clients that monitor and control demand so that application performance can be optimised even though overall bandwidth remains limited. By providing such solutions, operators can make more efficient use of the resources they have and provide an optimised user experience that increases satisfaction and helps manage the transition towards LTE, when it eventually takes place.
After all, such troubling headlines have a habit of spreading, but operators could very easily take action to generate more favourable publicity. And, it would be very easy to promote the uptake of such solutions: if users think there is a quick fix to their problems, they will undoubtedly take advantage of it.