This post is by Noam Green, Vice President of Marketing at Flash Networks
The introduction and deployment of LTE networks offers real promise for both subscribers and operators worldwide. It brings the potential for revolutionary improvements in quality of experience for mobile broadband. However, the promise of speed can’t always be guaranteed.
The customer experience is now the single most important differentiator for mobile operators. Several speed trials across the globe are conducted regularly by Connect Magazine, PC Week, and other third party benchmark companies announcing with fanfare the victorious operator networks. Video experience has increased in importance, resulting in video initiation time and reduced buffering/stalling also being used as performance indicators, in addition to download speeds.
Maintaining first place is difficult for operators because subscribers’ insatiable appetite for mobile data, including high definition video, is increasing faster than LTE network capacity. The ability to download more data at faster rates only makes subscribers crave mobile data more. On US LTE networks, 20 per cent of mobile Internet traffic is Netflix video, compared with only five per cent on 3G networks, and overall 50 per cent more traffic travels on LTE networks compared with 3G networks.
Because speed is so important, operators are putting a lot of emphasis on acceleration technologies. For example, TCP optimization gives all network traffic a boost by overcoming inherent protocol inefficiencies and dynamically adjusting transmission rates based on real-time network conditions. Last year, five operators from around the globe won first place in network regulator speed trials after implementing TCP optimization solutions, most of which improved their former years’ competitive position. Mobile video optimization that can improve the customer experience without perceptive degradation in video quality is also an important solution for maintaining a superior user experience.
Operators are very eager to understand their subscriber’s usage patterns. Insights on data usage and customer experience is becoming increasingly important, as well as connecting these inputs to customer care. Since subscribers have become so demanding about network speed and video quality, there is a need for operators to become more proactive in updating users if there is degradation in the customer experience.
For example, by adding messages and notifications overlaying the browsing session with notifications about irregular network congestion, operators can acknowledge that they are aware a problem exists, and that they are implementing a solution. These types of messages are a proactive way of handling customer experience issues before they reach customer care personnel or worse – through churn.
Maintaining a positive customer experience by delivering top network speeds and superior video quality will become the most important operator differentiator. With the launch of LTE networks, subscribers demand faster and smoother networks, but operators also have more opportunities to deliver a superior customer experience, including acceleration, mobile video optimization, and proactive engagement with subscribers.