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Most Finns very satisfied with 4G network quality

Instead of network speed and coverage, perceptions of service quality are frequently driven by app quality and the quality of the smartphone.
4G:n nopeus riittää useimmille käyttäjille
The median download speed for the users was over 13 megabits per second, this is quite high as most apps require far less than six. Photo: Unto Rautio / Aalto University

Mobile services including mobile apps like YouTube and WhatsApp are nowadays pervasive in the daily lives of many Finns. Therefore, understanding the factors that influence the real-world experiences with such apps is an important scientific goal. This is especially the case given the high expectations for 5G mobile networks.

Towards this goal, Aalto University researchers collected data from Finnish users on both their subjective mobile app experiences and their objective mobile network and smartphone metrics such as network speed. The data covers 292 users for two weeks and includes over 64,000 app experiences. The dataset is the largest ever collected on subjective perceptions of network quality. The Aalto researchers created machine learning models to predict the subjective quality of an app experience based on the objective metrics.

Overall the results suggest that, in Finland, network speed is not a significant issue in most user's perception of mobile apps. This is likely because the mobile networks in Finland are highly performant. 'The median download speed for the users was over 13 megabits per second, this is quite high as most apps require far less than six,' said Dr. Benjamin Finley, a researcher and one of the co-authors. Thus other factors such as app quality (e.g., an app having many bugs), smartphone performance (e.g., a smartphone having too little memory), and user expectations significantly affect the user's perception.

Interestingly, the years of smartphone experience of a user is the most significant factor in the model. 'We hypothesize that this represents the tech savvy of the user which influences their expectations about mobile apps and services,' remarked Dr. Finley. Additionally, the demographics of the user is a significant factor in how quality is rated. 'Unexpectedly we found that older users gave significantly lower absolute ratings to their experiences, even though they had similar levels of mobile network performance,' said Eren Boz, another co-author in the study. This could be the result of differences in how older and younger users understand the 5-star rating scale.

Overall the research indicates that Finnish mobile network operators cannot significantly improve users' mobile experience by, for example, merely increasing the top speed of the network. Instead, they may need to take a more holistic end-to-end approach to service delivery including understanding broad factors not related to the mobile network.

The research was published in the journal Pervasive and Mobile Computing and is openly available. An anonymized version of the dataset is openly available. The research was supported by the Emergent research project. The Emergent project was in collaboration with Business Finland, Airbus, VIRVE Tuotteet ja Palvelut Oy, Goodmill, Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications, and YLE.

Aalto-born start-up Netradar continues developing the technology used in the study and analysing the user experience.

5G wireless network with unprecedented speed and almost no latency will revolutionise transportation, industry, communications and entertainment over the coming decade. It will play a key role in many new technologies such as robotic transportation, industrial automation, the Internet of Things and various augmented reality applications.  One of the largest non-commercial 5G networks in Europe has now been opened at Aalto University's Otaniemi campus, making it possible for researchers, students and companies to develop devices and applications for both consumers and industrial users alike.  Read more here.

Contact details:

Prof. Jukka Manner
Department of Communications and Networking
Aalto University
+358505112973
[email protected]

Eren Boz
Department of Communications and Networking
Aalto University
[email protected]

Dr. Benjamin Finley
Department of Computer Science
University of Helsinki
[email protected]

 

 

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