On-device measurements: How understanding real-world mobile user experience benefits Indian 4G revolution – Tele-Talk by Peter Boyland

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On-device measurements: How understanding real-world mobile user experience benefits Indian 4G revolution - Tele-Talk by Peter Boyland

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The Indian mobile ecosystem has witnessed tremendous growth in recent years, with mobile data exploding and 4G becoming ever more widespread to satisfy the needs of a growing, data-hungry population. OpenSignal’s measurements show that if you roam across one of the largest countries in the world today, you will find an LTE signal 86% of the time. That is not merely remarkable, it is astonishing. India’s Telecoms sector has developed at lightning speed in the past years, fuelled by fierce competition and heavy investment in LTE rollout. But there’s also another element contributing to the remarkable growth of 4G in India: the understanding that real-world mobile experience matters. For operators, regulators, and consumers, understanding the real-world network experience helps obtain invaluable insights, driving the Indian 4G revolution to even greater heights.

While many countries have focused on using predictive measures for assessing mobile network performance like drive testing, India, with a surprising few detours, has made real user experience the basis for its insights, giving it an edge in navigating the fast pace changes in its 4G landscape. So what exactly are on-device measurements, and why are they beneficial to the Telecoms industry?

Understanding real-world mobile experience through the eyes of the user (the source that matters the most)

On-device measurements (sometimes referred to crowdsourced) gather data on network speeds and availability directly from consumer smartphones, usually through an app. While multiple Companies use this approach, not all of them do it in the same way.

We believe it’s important to collect measurements while users are going about their daily lives. Methodologies that only collect measurements in the foreground, also called user-initiated tests, are less representative than those that record measurements in the background. Collecting measurements around the clock in background ensures the data is representative of all the places people use their phone – at work, at home, indoors and outdoors, in urban and rural areas, and all the locations in between. This gives the truest picture of the actual experience users are getting when connecting to a 4G network.

The Indian Telecom sector is particularly ferocious. Operators are competing on a market encompassing a billion people, offering cut-price plans. And ever since the entry of Jio just a year and a half ago, we’re seeing no less than three major mobile mergers on the table. In such a heated environment, it is not only beneficial, but vital for operators to understand the true experience their subscribers are getting on their networks.

Several of India’s operators are using the real-world insights derived from on-device measurements to the fullest, and the regulators have explored using on-device measurements in various ways, with varying degrees of effectiveness. But what is clear is that operators are making a lot more use of on-device data measurements in India than in other parts of the world, as they recognise the importance of this approach in understanding and communicating their network capabilities to the market.

India among the global top 15 for LTE availability

In our latest State of LTE report, which analyzes 4G availability across 88 countries, we found users in India were able to connect to an LTE signal over 86% of the time, a rise of some 10 percentage points from the prior year. This ranks India among the top 15 in LTE availability worldwide placing it ahead of more established countries in the 4G landscape such as Switzerland and Singapore.

India is a unique market, with strong competition and remarkable 4G growth, all on a massive scale due to the country’s growing population and sheer geographical size. This has brought huge opportunities and challenges for its operators, and M&A is rife as mobile players sink or swim. To ensure their future success, India’s operators are leading the world in embracing on-device measurements as a key way to ensure they continue to provide an outstanding subscriber experience. Will this help them leapfrog other markets when it comes to building out world-class 4G infrastructure and investing in future technologies like 5G and IoT? It will certainly give them an edge, especially if other countries continue to rely on outdated network performance measurements as a proxy for measuring the real-world experience of their subscribers.

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and ETTelecom.com does not necessarily subscribe to it. ETTelecom.com shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.

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