UK Mobile Broadband Report!

29 07 2009

Recently a Broadband Communication firm Epitiro, released UK Mobile Broadband report, which has some significant points to take note of. The report details the performance of mobile broadband networks based on data collected from Dec 8, 2008 to May 8, 2009. It includes the analysis done for major mobile broadband operators including Hutchison 3, O2, Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone and Virgin mobile. The most significant part of this report involves over 1.4 million tests recorded on performance from more than 1300 mobile agents across England. So what’s fuss about all this? Why this report is significant?

In UK, there are significant numbers of notspots (No Coverage Areas), when it comes to 3G mobile coverage. This revelation came from Ofcom, the telecom regulatory body in UK. It also added that it will investigate the mobile broadband speeds which vary from places to places and from time to time. So in short all isn’t going well on mobile broadband front, when it comes to real world deployments.

The Epitiro report says that average download speed achieved on mobile broadband is just below 1Mbps. The speed depends on how many people are using these services at a given time. It also revealed that subscribers are getting only one fourth of the advertised speed. This is in contrast to consumer behaviors, who are dropping fixed line connections for mobile broadband. Consumers are increasingly becoming Data Hungry; this is justified by the fact that in 2003, just 1% of revenue per mobile connection came from data, which rose to 6% by 2008.  But then Ofcom has to resolve lot many issues before it could make 3G Mobile Broadband available to all. Perhaps the demand for for more 3G spectrum is growing in light of significant number of notspots, particularly in rural areas.

Some of the key points mentioned in report are:

  • Mobile broadband users experience on average 24% of maximum headline “up to‟ speeds advertised
  • The average mobile broadband speed achieved is less than 1 Mbps
  • Of the 1,300 agents tested, the fastest 20 agents posted an average speed of 1.8 Mbps
  • The average Ping time is 150msec which exceeds the recommended 100msec ceiling for internet game playing. Similarly specified ADSL broadband achieves an average of less than 50 msec.
  • Web browsing, on average, is 34% slower than speeds achieved on ADSL connections though smaller but popular web sites download in less than 3 seconds
  • Trends in mobile data indicate TCP download speeds improving at a rate of 11% over the test period

The challenge is significant in the sense, that mobile is now treated as essential service rather than a luxury and more and more consumers want pervasive coverage for accessing Internet on mobile. This report would help Indian Operators to understand the implications & traps of 3G rollout services, who are in process of bidding for NGN mobile spectrum in coming months. Achieving full customer satisfaction could be a distant dream, but at least we can have some innovative 3G rollout strategies whereby we could minimize the notspots to a significantly low number. If all goes well, then generating revenue remains the challenge in coming years, so in short we need to overcome significant number of hurdles, before we could actually make successful business case for NGN Mobile Broadband.