Guest Post: Why lots of new iPhones is not universally good news for MNOs

by Neil Coleman, director of global marketing with Actix

You could be forgiven for thinking that mobile operators must be rubbing their hands in joy with the news that Apple sold nine million new iPhones in the first weekend of availability. But it is also worth considering the impact on the mobile networks of huge numbers of new devices being connected in a short period of time. Of course, the networks will have thoroughly tested the new devices in advance of launch. But how can any organization effectively replicate and realistically test the impact of hundreds of thousands of new devices connecting over a short period?

Obviously mobile manufacturers like Apple and Samsung want their customers to experience a seamless and robust user experience with new devices.

Each new handset has its own usage pattern and signaling impact and invariably comes with increased demand from subscribers to upload and download data.

Signaling capability improves as each new device is launched, meaning newer handsets are more likely to dominate the radio network at the expense of older devices.

Network operators need to be particularly proactive around high profile product launches. The impact of a high volume of new devices on a network can often be felt by long standing subscribers with older devices.

Without doing anything different these subscribers may start to experience increased dropped calls or slower data rates, simply because newer devices are connecting more effectively to the networks. This leads to complaints and even subscriber churn.

This is particularly relevant for launches of Apple devices. Not only do they dominate network traffic (in June 2013, according to our research, three Apple phones generated more than half of all data network traffic in European and North American networks) but each new generation of iPhone increases network data usage per device by 40 per cent.

Factor in vast numbers of new devices, all being activated and demanding data at the same time and you can understand some of the congestion issues that a new iPhone launch causes mobile operators.

The key for mobile operators is to actively monitor the impact of new devices on network capability to identify relevant issues and adjust network parameters to re-introduce an even playing field for all subscribers.

An essential element in achieving this is up to date information from the Radio Access Network (RAN) – the critical part of the network that handles the connection between the user and the base station.

Information from the RAN provides insight into issues such as dropped calls, slow data rates and a downgrading of customer experiences.

When this information is cross referenced with customer complaints a network operator can generate real insight into where subscribers are experiencing issues, on which devices, and how the network can be balanced to deliver a better experience for all subscribers.

At Actix we work with mobile network operators [MNOs] using our ActixOne platform to deliver the insight into subscriber experiences that is essential to identifying the impact a new handset has on network performance, enabling MNOs to make the relevant adjustments as large numbers of new devices hit the network quickly.

Only information from the RAN provides the granularity and insight to deliver a more effective subscriber experience for all customers.

Operators that take a proactive approach to subscriber experiences around the launch of new devices, actively adjusting the network to suit all subscribers, are likely to not only benefit from high ARPU new users but also retain the loyalty of subscribers that have not upgraded.

Author biog

Neil Coleman is director of global marketing for Actix. Neil draws on more than 15 years of industry experience in marketing, product management and R&D roles at Actix, Micromuse and IBM. Over the last six years he has been responsible for bringing Actix’s ground-breaking suite of mobile analytics and optimisation solutions to market. These solutions help more than 100 operators improve mobile customer experience and streamline their technology rollouts.

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