Monday, July 7, 2014

Speed = QoE?

I was chairing the LTE World Summit in Amsterdam last week. One of the great presentations made there was by Bouygues Telecom's EVP of Strategy Frederic Ruciak. He presented the operator's strategy for LTE launch in France that led the challenger to the number one market share on LTE in less than one year. He was showing that consumers were not ready to pay for "more speed" because they had been sold the myth of mobile internet too many times. Consumers had been sold wap on GPRS, EDGE, them wireless internet on 3G, HSPA with low satisfaction. Using internet as the reason to upgrade to LTE is a loosing proposition.

One of the mistakes many make in this industry is equating speed with quality of experience (QoE). 

Our quest to increase speed in wireless networks is futile if we do not consider the other side if the coin: service experience. 

For instance, there is always a wave of enthusiasm at the launch of a new radio technology, when few users have access to ample network resources and the services that ride on it are those that were designed for the precious generation. 
I have generation 1 iPad and the latest iPad mini both on wifi. When I bought my first iPad, I had a great browsing experience. Navigation was fluid and fast. Now, it is rare that I am able to have more than 10 minutes browsing without a crash. It is not that the browser is corrupted, just that web pages have grown in size and complexity and when it took 2 seconds to load 10 elements 4 years ago, it now tries to load 40+ elements and inevitably runs out if resource, memory and crashes. The ipad mini is not as bad but not as good as the first generation 4 years ago.

When we are looking at LTE and LTE advanced and soon 5G, it seems that the only "benefit" we are selling as an industry is speed. We tend to infer an improvement in QoE, but it is rarely there. If I used LTE to browse a monochromatic text-based wap site, I am sure that speed would be an improvement in QoE. But no, as LTE is launched, web pages grow in complexity and size, encryption and obfuscation is creeping in, video is graduating from SD to HD to 4K... With video, the problem is even larger as the increase in screen size and definition seems to consistently outpace network speeds.
It becomes harder to sell a new technology if all it does is keeping up or catching up with the service, not improve drastically the user experience.

1 comment:

Panagiotis Georgopoulos said...

Insightful and to the point. I fully agree that speed does NOT equal QoE.