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Hidden factors
impacting mobile
data growth
Author: Virgilio Fiorese,
Software Sales Manager, Ericsson Latin America and Caribbean
This article presents six hidden factors that can help operators improve network quality, and
thus improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.

The 2013 Ericsson Mobility Report shows that
global data traffic volume doubled from 2012 to
2013, and will increase twelvefold by 2018,
meaning operators are faced with the challenge
of improving and maintaining network quality
and capacity.
The report also indicates that network quality
has a direct impact on the end-user’s positive
word-of-mouth recommendation for mobile
service provider via Network Promoter Score
(NPS) , a common metric used by various
industries to rate customer loyalty.
Faced with this complex situation, how can an
operator ensure that its network quality is
maintained, or better yet, improved over the
coming years?
How to identify and mitigate hidden mobile data
traffic demand
When setting the network growth plan—more
specifically, mobile data growth plan—many service
providers are focused on well-known factors and
typically consider historical data consumption
patterns and organic growth. The past is a poor
predictor of the future when consumers are driving
unprecedented mobile data explosion.
Therefore, it is important to look more closely at the
hidden factors that may create exponential growth.
For example, consider the case of the introduction
of the iPhone. When it was launched, its impact on
network data growth wasn’t expected, so there were
no network growth plans that could anticipate the
growth that followed. Urgent actions had to be taken
to mitigate that impact.
Such risks can happen on a minor or major scale,
and operators need try to minimize them by smartly
executing their investments to ensure positive
returns. Network resources can’t be over
dimensioned, nor assets underutilized simply
because there is a risk of unknown traffic peaks.
However, operators need to also develop strategies
to avoid the risk of declining network quality.

Following are the six hidden demand drivers for
mobile data that can affect a mobile network.
1. Radio network unlock
It is a common strategy among network providers to
use network speed controls. These are very good
alternatives for network management or network
asset monetization, but the side effects of this
strategy must be understood in order to avoid a
traffic tsunami. If operators force limit the speed, an
unknown traffic demand can lead to exponential
network growth.
Therefore, operators in this case should monitor
devices being used in order to estimate the hidden
demand in order to calculate the required network
capacity if they decide to abandon this strategy of
force limiting the speed.
2. New combination of devices or device
software versions
Device manufactures may launch new devices or
software versions that bring new traffic demands to
the network. Therefore, being able to anticipate or at
least monitor such impact on the network is very
important. In the case of new devices, traffic
demand could be more easily controlled with a good
partnership and access to the device providers’
roadmaps.
On the other hand, with software upgrades executed
by device vendors without previous communication
to and tests by the service providers, operators may
not notice the traffic demand changes until the
number of upgraded devices in the network is large
enough to crash it. These examples illustrate the
importance of monitoring and actively managing
device software upgrades.
3. OTT – Over-the-Top applications
Each OTT application has a different traffic pattern,
and rapid growth of a new application may bring
huge challenges to the network. It is therefore
important to monitor the behavior of OTT
applications and to anticipate their traffic impact.
If, for example, Skype or Whatsapp were able to
mobilize 10% of their users to adopt video
conferencing, this could easily require 10x more
capacity than regular messaging applications.
4. Abnormal traffic waves
Another type of unknown traffic is traffic “tsunamis,”
events that bring a large number of users to
unprepared specific geographic zones. While these
are on the agenda of network planners, there are
still situations where emergency network unlocks or
hardware relocation is required.
An example is the Pope’s visit to Rio de Janeiro in
July 2013. The visit was to take place in a
non-urban zone, where service providers were fully
prepared to support the traffic. However, at the last
minute, event promoters changed the location to
Copacabana Beach, creating unexpected demand.
Of course, a traffic tsunami could also come from a
real natural disaster that can’t be anticipated; in
such cases, contingency plans must be put in place.
5. Network resource limitations
All networks are designed to accommodate a certain
number of users and volume of usage. The good
news is that evolved networks, such as WCDMA,
are built to distribute and share limited resources
among all network users. This sharing of resources
triggers service degradation and impacts customer
experience when there are more users and traffic
than expected.
In other words, even if the users are not dropped,
they won’t have the best experience possible,
causing a hidden traffic demand. It is important to
properly estimate the usage demands to identify this
unknown traffic.
Companies such as Ericsson have tools that can be
used to estimate the total traffic demand,
considering the resources that aren’t being shared,
thus helping to plan the network for the best
customer experience. For example, on WCDMA
technology, Ericsson Relative Code and Power
Load tools can identify for a certain throughput
target the Power and Codes required, assuming the
existing peak of users.
6. Coverage gaps
Typically, network plans are based on coverage
expansions planned by the Marketing department,
aligned with the service provider’s commercial
strategy. However, coverage gaps can still exist at
times in areas that were thought to be fully covered.

An example is high-density areas, where the
accessibility in those zones becomes degraded with
increases in end users. After being corrected with
network expansions, unknown traffic demands are
uncovered, which were hidden by the fact that end
users were using lower-speed technologies. For
example, a 3G-capable device may be using 2G
coverage in an area where 3G coverage should be
available, but is not due to a lack of accessibility.
Ericsson has shown that a 3G user falling on 2G
coverage transport generates 40 times less traffic
than when on 3G coverage, which shows that fixing
3G network coverage gaps could have a huge
impact on network data growth.
The six hidden demands discussed above are
building blocks of our “Growth Codes”
methodology, which can help operators differentiate
by balancing superior network performance and an
innovative go-to-market strategy.
In conclusion, organic network growth plans should
be avoided. Service providers should review the
known and unknown growth factors during the
network-planning phase. This way, operators can
minimize the risk of network congestion and
emergency investments, increasing customer
satisfaction and ensuring a better investment plan.

2013 Ericsson Mobility Report:
http://www.ericsson.com/mobility-report
Net Promoter Score: a common metric used by
various industries to rate customer loyalty, created
by and a registered trademark of Fred Reichheld,
Bain & Company.
Ericsson’s Unplug! Growth Codes:
http://www.ericsson.com/unplug/growth/
Ericsson is shaping the future of Mobile and Broadband Internet communications through its
continuous technology leadership.
Providing innovative solutions in more than 140 countries, Ericsson is helping to create the most
powerful communication companies in the world.

Ericsson - Barbados
1st Floor Braemar Court
Deighton Road
BB 14017
St. Michael
Barbados
Phone: +246 426 0993

Ericsson AB Branch Office - Suriname
Hofstraat 1
PPS Bulding
Paramaribo
SR PA01 01
Suriname
Phone: +597 520 366

Ericsson - Haiti
Rue Lamarre # 20 Petion-Ville
Port-Au-Prince
Haiti
Phone: +509 7011 063

Ericsson AB Branch - Trinidad and Tobago
1st Floor, Briar Place
Sweet Briar Road
St. Clair
Trinidad & Tobago
Phone: +1 868 299 - 0164

Ericsson Ab Branch Office - Jamaica
Pan Caribbean Building 6th floor
60 Knutsford Boulevard Kingston 5
Kingston
Jamaica
Phone: +1 876 960 0320

The content of this document is subject to revision without notice due to
continued progress in methodology, design and manufacturing. Ericsson
shall have no liability for any error or damage of any kind resulting from
the use of this document

Ericsson
Torshamnsgatan 21-23
S E -164 80 Stockholm, Sweden
Telephone +46 10 719 0000
www.ericsson.com

ERC-13:000339 Uen
© Ericsson AB 2013

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Hidden factors impacting mobile data growth

  • 1. Hidden factors impacting mobile data growth Author: Virgilio Fiorese, Software Sales Manager, Ericsson Latin America and Caribbean
  • 2. This article presents six hidden factors that can help operators improve network quality, and thus improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. The 2013 Ericsson Mobility Report shows that global data traffic volume doubled from 2012 to 2013, and will increase twelvefold by 2018, meaning operators are faced with the challenge of improving and maintaining network quality and capacity. The report also indicates that network quality has a direct impact on the end-user’s positive word-of-mouth recommendation for mobile service provider via Network Promoter Score (NPS) , a common metric used by various industries to rate customer loyalty. Faced with this complex situation, how can an operator ensure that its network quality is maintained, or better yet, improved over the coming years? How to identify and mitigate hidden mobile data traffic demand When setting the network growth plan—more specifically, mobile data growth plan—many service providers are focused on well-known factors and typically consider historical data consumption patterns and organic growth. The past is a poor predictor of the future when consumers are driving unprecedented mobile data explosion. Therefore, it is important to look more closely at the hidden factors that may create exponential growth. For example, consider the case of the introduction of the iPhone. When it was launched, its impact on network data growth wasn’t expected, so there were no network growth plans that could anticipate the growth that followed. Urgent actions had to be taken to mitigate that impact. Such risks can happen on a minor or major scale, and operators need try to minimize them by smartly executing their investments to ensure positive returns. Network resources can’t be over dimensioned, nor assets underutilized simply because there is a risk of unknown traffic peaks. However, operators need to also develop strategies to avoid the risk of declining network quality. Following are the six hidden demand drivers for mobile data that can affect a mobile network. 1. Radio network unlock It is a common strategy among network providers to use network speed controls. These are very good alternatives for network management or network asset monetization, but the side effects of this strategy must be understood in order to avoid a traffic tsunami. If operators force limit the speed, an unknown traffic demand can lead to exponential network growth. Therefore, operators in this case should monitor devices being used in order to estimate the hidden demand in order to calculate the required network capacity if they decide to abandon this strategy of force limiting the speed. 2. New combination of devices or device software versions Device manufactures may launch new devices or software versions that bring new traffic demands to the network. Therefore, being able to anticipate or at least monitor such impact on the network is very important. In the case of new devices, traffic demand could be more easily controlled with a good partnership and access to the device providers’ roadmaps. On the other hand, with software upgrades executed by device vendors without previous communication to and tests by the service providers, operators may not notice the traffic demand changes until the number of upgraded devices in the network is large enough to crash it. These examples illustrate the importance of monitoring and actively managing device software upgrades. 3. OTT – Over-the-Top applications Each OTT application has a different traffic pattern, and rapid growth of a new application may bring huge challenges to the network. It is therefore important to monitor the behavior of OTT applications and to anticipate their traffic impact. If, for example, Skype or Whatsapp were able to mobilize 10% of their users to adopt video conferencing, this could easily require 10x more capacity than regular messaging applications.
  • 3. 4. Abnormal traffic waves Another type of unknown traffic is traffic “tsunamis,” events that bring a large number of users to unprepared specific geographic zones. While these are on the agenda of network planners, there are still situations where emergency network unlocks or hardware relocation is required. An example is the Pope’s visit to Rio de Janeiro in July 2013. The visit was to take place in a non-urban zone, where service providers were fully prepared to support the traffic. However, at the last minute, event promoters changed the location to Copacabana Beach, creating unexpected demand. Of course, a traffic tsunami could also come from a real natural disaster that can’t be anticipated; in such cases, contingency plans must be put in place. 5. Network resource limitations All networks are designed to accommodate a certain number of users and volume of usage. The good news is that evolved networks, such as WCDMA, are built to distribute and share limited resources among all network users. This sharing of resources triggers service degradation and impacts customer experience when there are more users and traffic than expected. In other words, even if the users are not dropped, they won’t have the best experience possible, causing a hidden traffic demand. It is important to properly estimate the usage demands to identify this unknown traffic. Companies such as Ericsson have tools that can be used to estimate the total traffic demand, considering the resources that aren’t being shared, thus helping to plan the network for the best customer experience. For example, on WCDMA technology, Ericsson Relative Code and Power Load tools can identify for a certain throughput target the Power and Codes required, assuming the existing peak of users. 6. Coverage gaps Typically, network plans are based on coverage expansions planned by the Marketing department, aligned with the service provider’s commercial strategy. However, coverage gaps can still exist at times in areas that were thought to be fully covered. An example is high-density areas, where the accessibility in those zones becomes degraded with increases in end users. After being corrected with network expansions, unknown traffic demands are uncovered, which were hidden by the fact that end users were using lower-speed technologies. For example, a 3G-capable device may be using 2G coverage in an area where 3G coverage should be available, but is not due to a lack of accessibility. Ericsson has shown that a 3G user falling on 2G coverage transport generates 40 times less traffic than when on 3G coverage, which shows that fixing 3G network coverage gaps could have a huge impact on network data growth. The six hidden demands discussed above are building blocks of our “Growth Codes” methodology, which can help operators differentiate by balancing superior network performance and an innovative go-to-market strategy. In conclusion, organic network growth plans should be avoided. Service providers should review the known and unknown growth factors during the network-planning phase. This way, operators can minimize the risk of network congestion and emergency investments, increasing customer satisfaction and ensuring a better investment plan. 2013 Ericsson Mobility Report: http://www.ericsson.com/mobility-report Net Promoter Score: a common metric used by various industries to rate customer loyalty, created by and a registered trademark of Fred Reichheld, Bain & Company. Ericsson’s Unplug! Growth Codes: http://www.ericsson.com/unplug/growth/
  • 4. Ericsson is shaping the future of Mobile and Broadband Internet communications through its continuous technology leadership. Providing innovative solutions in more than 140 countries, Ericsson is helping to create the most powerful communication companies in the world. Ericsson - Barbados 1st Floor Braemar Court Deighton Road BB 14017 St. Michael Barbados Phone: +246 426 0993 Ericsson AB Branch Office - Suriname Hofstraat 1 PPS Bulding Paramaribo SR PA01 01 Suriname Phone: +597 520 366 Ericsson - Haiti Rue Lamarre # 20 Petion-Ville Port-Au-Prince Haiti Phone: +509 7011 063 Ericsson AB Branch - Trinidad and Tobago 1st Floor, Briar Place Sweet Briar Road St. Clair Trinidad & Tobago Phone: +1 868 299 - 0164 Ericsson Ab Branch Office - Jamaica Pan Caribbean Building 6th floor 60 Knutsford Boulevard Kingston 5 Kingston Jamaica Phone: +1 876 960 0320 The content of this document is subject to revision without notice due to continued progress in methodology, design and manufacturing. Ericsson shall have no liability for any error or damage of any kind resulting from the use of this document Ericsson Torshamnsgatan 21-23 S E -164 80 Stockholm, Sweden Telephone +46 10 719 0000 www.ericsson.com ERC-13:000339 Uen © Ericsson AB 2013