MIT Technology Review has a great article on how mobile network traffic has changed from the days of modeling just for voice traffic. Data packages for our iPhones and Droids are becoming more and more a part of our daily lives. For this reason Verizon Wireless and AT&T wireless are relying on predictive traffic modelers to plan for network upgrades. These modelers in the past have been used to predict traffic 18 months into the future. Typically, though, the carriers use the modelers to set a baseline and then update that baseline every month.
What is making modeling for network upgrades more challenging is ad hoc events (not just baseball, football, basketball) such as movies. More and more smartphone users are emailing or posting their thoughts, pictures and sound bites to Facebook, WordPress, Twitter and other social networks during the movie or as the movie ends. The same thing happens after concerts, operas (if you can believe grandma blogs) and as was recently reported, Spiderman’s broadway debut. And of course our tech savvy politicians are also Facebook and Twitter in vain, and sometimes funny, attempt to be classified as hip and trendy.
The resolution is a mixed bag approach to things. First, a quantifiable understanding how each smartphone manufacturer designs their device to interact with the mobile network. Second, how mobile enabled apps interact with both the carrier network and the handset. Third and finally a balanced approach to hardware and software augments to address network related issues such as inefficient routing, congestion areas and carrier equipment failure.
All in all, the article is well written and does a great job explaining to the everyman why our smartphone drops calls, cannot text, or loses the data connection. In a world where mobile connectivity is a required commodity, this is definitely one area where a mobile carrier can differentiate itself as service focused from its nearest next competitor. And one particular carrier could benefit from improved customer service.