In Volume 2 (Quantifying the User Experience), we expose readers to a large number of never-before-seen test results that we collected during the data collection portion of this exercise – how we spent our summer vacation.
Although our conclusions from the first report remain intact, there are several nuances to those observations which need to be considered. Once again, our ability to collect and analyze the user experience data would not have been possible without the support of Accuver, who allowed us to use its suite of network drive test tools, including its recently released XCAL-MO network benchmarking tool and its XCAL-M drive test solution, as well as its XCAP post-processing software to analyze the results.
To summarize this 66-page report, which includes 53 figures and/or tables of results and analyses, we offer the following observations:
- Throughput still matters. However, it only matters to a certain point since most applications require only a fraction of the throughput offered by today’s mobile broadband networks while in many cases the chokepoint in the broadband connection is the wired Internet/host server and not the operator’s next-generation mobile broadband network.
- Latency can never be too low. Latency, including both the time to connect to the network and start receiving data, as well as the subsequent interactions between the device and the network/host server, can never be too low. In that regard, too much attention is paid to the ‘my pipe is bigger than your pipe” mantra when the real focus should be on delivering a more compelling user experience, regardless of how it is achieved.
- Operators need to reevaluate their mobile data marketing message. To some extent it is a bit too late since they’ve sold consumers on the concept that speed is all that matters. However, it is possible to replace ‘speed” with ‘fast,” and then equate fast with the time required to connect to the network, as well as the time required to access and/or download content. As an analogy, operators don’t advertise if they use half-rate AMR, full-rate AMR or wideband AMR, but they do advertise voice quality, call completion rates, dropped call rates, etc. In a similar fashion, handset manufacturers don’t promote lower current drain; instead they advertise longer battery lives. Those metrics truly define the user experience. The potential throughput of a mobile broadband network is meaningless when it comes to defining the user experience.