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Can a Campus Make Us Smarter About Mobile?

Ray Le Maistre

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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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.
9/10/2013 | 10:36:20 AM
Re: Youth served
Wait -- students are not poor?
[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.
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.
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...
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.
9/10/2013 | 9:06:38 AM
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.
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