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Background apps harming user experience

Seven out of 10 smartphone data sessions are not initiated by the user, according to research published today. Network optimisation specialist Actix, which conducted the study, said the activity could be having a negative impact on end user experience.

The constant polling for updates from a range of apps  is creating network strain and challenging operators that are striving to provide capacity in areas where subscribers are not intentionally using their devices, Actix said.

The firm studied real-world data from eight network operators across four continents and found that, on average, only 30 per cent of data sessions are user initiated. The majority of failed data sessions happen without the user even noticing.

In mature markets smartphones account for nearly 85 per cent of network data traffic, the vendor explained. These ‘always on’ devices are making up to 10 connections per hour with apps such as Facebook, Twitter and e-mail constantly checking in for update.

According to Neil Coleman, marketing director at Actix: “Smartphones make between three to 10 data connections per hour and even though 60 to 70 per cent of these are less than 50Kb in size they can put a real strain on the network.”

It also creates a significant customer experience challenge, the firm added. Operators see a significant number of failed data connections yet are unable to quantify the impact on the subscriber experience. Actix estimates that 80 per cent of these failed data connections happen without the user even noticing.

“Whilst working with one major UK operator we spotted a significant number of dropped data sessions right by the entrance to a tube station,” said Coleman. “This wasn’t the case of subscribers receiving poor browsing or video performance it was simply that background updates failed as subscribers entered the station.”

The vendor added that addressing both the network loading and customer experience problems requires operators to build a detailed picture of subscriber experience and network performance

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