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3G mobile network coverage failing to meet video-ready speeds

The arrival of LTE cannot come quick enough for mobile video services as 3G networks are straining to provide adequate support as smartphone uptake proliferates.

A benchmark report from mobile network analytics and optimisation firm Actix providing insight into the current state of mobile networks has found that data sessions in congested urban areas often fall below video-ready speeds. It calculated that data rates drop by as much as 50% when mobile users move indoors, averaging just 0.4Mbps, and that in urban areas connection speeds rarely top 0.2Mbps, making mobile video impossible.

Looking at devices, smartphones on 3G networks were found to have spent almost 85% of their active time generating data traffic, and only 10% of it on voice, with every new generation of smartphone adding up to 20% more data consumption. Tablets and dongles were more impacted by capacity issues than basic and feature phones even though tablet usage was miniscule compared with smartphones.

Looking to the future and the arrival of LTE 4G, Actix observed that which such networks on paper at least deliver on performance claims, the real challenge will come when these networks become heavily loaded.

Examining the trends revealed by the survey, Bill McHale, CEO of Actix, said: “Our annual study reveals the importance of understanding the interplay between people, places and devices on the network. Never before has the network comprised such a range of complex elements, as operators look to transition to LTE, manage increasingly demanding user expectations and optimise for an ever-growing number of devices.

"Through understanding the network subscriber, where they are and the device they are using, operators can radically improve their network quality through targeted investment, optimisation and self-optimising networks (SONs).”

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