Monday, 23 September 2013

University students provide insights into mobile’s future

  • Tech savvy students aim for cheapest plans with best coverage
  • Network usage points to higher data uploads
  • Wi-Fi offloading is common

Mobile use by students gives an insight into future mobile consumption according to data extracted from mobile networks by Actix, a leading supplier of RAN analytics and optimization solutions for Mobile Network Operators. Students represent a large, tech savvy subscriber base seeking low cost connections that deliver the best coverage.

This year, a record 130 million* students will attend colleges and universities around the world and this is expected to double by 2025**. Notably the student demographic of 18-21 year olds, armed with the latest smartphones and tabletsare opting to join low cost operators and MVNOs that focus on cheap bundles and self-service customer care.

Data captured by Actix shows that an average university campus will exhibit a daily population of up to 25,000 students who use mobile phones as their social hub. While this population is much lower than city transport hubs and central business districts, it generates some of the highest levels of daily data and voice traffic. A university campus will generate 60% more calls per person per day, and 388% more data per person per day compared to traffic in a business district. Universities also have the highest levels of data upload, accounting for 30% of all data traffic at the location.

Neil Coleman, Director of Global Marketing at Actix, says: “While the ‘more for less’ mentality is hardly new, students as early adopters and power users of mobile provide an important gauge of future trends. Network operators need to accommodate these evolving attitudes to mobile use if they are to continue to deliver effective, profitable networks.”

Actix estimates the demand for data sessions on mobile networks will have increased by a factor of ten by 2015. To accommodate their increasing data demands, students make greater effort to use Wi-Fi to secure the most data at the lowest cost. While imperfect in terms of a seamless experience, Wi-Fi is perceived by students to be worthwhile when trying to keep costs down. However this behaviour has unwelcome implications for mobile operators as they lose control of the customer experience and revenue opportunities when students hop off the network.

“Operators need to get to grips with Wi-Fi, either by finding a way to monetize it or by encouraging subscribers to stay on the mobile network with better quality service and realistic tariffs,” says Coleman. “With heavy uploads and two-way social traffic dominating the modern campus, operators have to prepare for an increasingly social customer base.”

University campuses typify higher capacity, low margin areas where operators need to reduce the cost of delivery. To achieve this it is critical for operators to have a geo-located granular view of their network showing subscriber activities and the quality of experience they receive. ActixOne, a real-time, multi-vendor and multi-technology platform that supports all mobile network data sources, enables operators to rapidly locate, visualize and analyze subscriber activity on the network. Armed with this data they can decide upon the most cost-effective course of action and technologies to optimize their services to avoid capacity crunch such as through network tuning, the deployment of small cells to increase capacity and by the introduction of self-organizing networks (SONs).