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Can a Campus Make Us Smarter About Mobile?

Ray Le Maistre
9/10/2013

There are many different views about how mobile service usage will develop, but everyone agrees on at least one thing: Mobile data consumption will continue to rise.

And while no one knows exactly what the usage patterns will be for each market/demographic and so on, some data compiled by mobile optimization and analytics specialist Actix Ltd. , which is in the process of being acquired by Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE: DOX), provides an interesting insight into some of the usage trends we can expect in the future. (See Amdocs Dives Into Mobile SPIT Pool.)

Actix believes that students, who generally use smartphones and tablets and who seek out low-cost service packages, provide a guide to the future of mobile service consumption. From studies of mobile network traffic, Actix found that an average student campus will, in general, generate higher levels of voice and data traffic than city transport hubs and central business districts. "A university campus will generate 60 percent more calls per person per day, and 388 percent more data per person per day compared to traffic in a business district," notes Actix.

In addition, "universities also have the highest levels of data upload, accounting for 30 percent of all data traffic at the location." That's a significant statistic.

As students are "early adopters and power users of mobile," they provide "an important gauge of future trends. Network operators need to accommodate these evolving attitudes to mobile use if they are to continue to deliver effective, profitable networks," adds Actix in a media release about its findings, which also highlights the increasing role Wifi access will likely play in mobile data usage patterns.

While Actix isn't revealing any new trends, its analysis of student usage highlights some of the major considerations mobile operators need to address right now as they plan and build out their 4G networks, and in particular consider the use of small cells with integrated WiFi in their networks.

The most important decisions for mobile operators are to decide what it is they want to be and who they would like to have as their customers -- and then plan and invest accordingly, not just in the radio access network but also in the backhaul and packet core, as the ability to employ policy control and real-time charging capabilities is going to be just as important as increasing access speeds and expanding network reach. Just building a 4G network and then shouting about how fast it is really isn't enough.

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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DanJones
DanJones
9/10/2013 | 9:06:38 AM
Gamers
It's surprising that mobile gaming packages have not really taken off in the US. Too expensive maybe? You can bet a lot of that traffic is people playing Candy Crush or whatever.
mendyk
mendyk
9/10/2013 | 9:08:51 AM
Youth served
Since campuses are concentrated clusters of youngish people, they can serve as test beds for high-volume mobile data networks. What remains to be seen is if operators can figure out how to make money delivering ever-higher data rates and network capacity to consumers who will not pay premium prices.
Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas
9/10/2013 | 10:17:32 AM
Re: Gamers
What do mobile gaming packages look like? It seems the prevalance of free games has won out, although I know a lot of people who pay within games (freemium model) to get access to new levels or badges and what not. Apparently Candy Crush is pretty addicting once you get started...
Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas
9/10/2013 | 10:18:27 AM
Innovation Labs
Most operators, like AT&T's Foundries, are opened next to campuses. That is to get access to their labs and R&D, I think, but I wonder if they are also thinking about the student population and access to a good test bed for new services and apps.
Ray@LR
[email protected]
9/10/2013 | 10:22:23 AM
Re: Youth served
I think the answer to that 'how to make money' conundrum is in the policy + charging strategy... surely it has to be the low entry price followed by tempting value adds that can be bought using the mobile account for instant gratification?

Students want a great deal but they are mostly not poor.
mendyk
mendyk
9/10/2013 | 10:36:20 AM
Re: Youth served
Wait -- students are not poor?
MordyK
MordyK
9/10/2013 | 10:38:21 AM
Re: Innovation Labs
Its definitely a good lab environment. Historically campuses were used as pilot test beds for lots of stuff such as novel payment methods, loyalty, area WiFi, etc.
RitchBlasi
RitchBlasi
9/10/2013 | 12:21:50 PM
Mobile Future...Students Lead the Way
My experience in mobile/wireless does show that campuses are the perfect test bed for how best to enhance network capacity and quality.  Look at the number of households that now are totally wireless -- more than one-third - and I would bet a deeper dive into those numbers would reveal that much of that growth has come over the past few years as Gen M (for mobile) has grown up not being handcuffed six feet from a wall for their Internet or phone access.  This change in our society will only grow - and carriers know this - so using campuses as a test-bed of activity makes sense.  It will also allow them to better understand how to provide an air-agnostic interface that will bounce customers, seamlessly, between cellular and Wi-Fi.  When people talk about college students being the "leaders of the future," it will mean much more when it comes to how they will communicate.
RitchBlasi
RitchBlasi
9/10/2013 | 12:30:54 PM
Following onto......
Just came across this in another article on mHealth.  Thought it was another good point...

 

A recent survey of U.S. medical students shows that 53 percent of those that prefer digital sources turn to a mobile reference first to answer a clinical question.  

According to the survey, 54 percent of medical students currently use a tablet as part of their medical training--a whopping 31 percent increase compared to 2012 results. Nevertheless, only 18 percent of medical students in the survey, from more than 200 medical schools, were required to use tablets in training.

The survey found that the top tasks performed on tablets by medical students were: looking up clinical data, accessing patient records, and communicating with colleagues and physicians. In the survey, 82 percent of medical students said they would recommend health-related apps to future patients. 

Conducted in July 2013, the online survey of more than 1,000 medical students from all 50 states revealed that 44 percent of medical students are "digital omnivores," which are defined as people who use a tablet, smartphone, and computer routinely in a professional or academic capacity. 

"The effective use of all platforms of technology allows medical students to deliver better and more efficient patient care," app developer Epocrates stated in the announcement of the results for their 8th annual Future Physicians of America survey.
Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas
9/10/2013 | 12:58:30 PM
Re: Youth served
Poor or rich (with parents' money), I think the student population is the most willing to take advantage of new policy-enabled pricing schemes, like ads for data, happy hours for data, etc. Others might not care enough too, but young people would be interested for the cost savings.

This is, of course, assuming they aren't all on their family plans...which is doubtful for many.
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