Correlating data usage and network congestion

Tutela and tefficient collaborate to understand the link 

One of the advantages of being the world’s largest crowdsourced mobile network performance company is the ability to compare operators not just across countries, but across different continents. Of course, making like-for-like comparisons across countries with radically different demographics is fraught with difficulty, but through a collaboration with the producers of leading data analysis at Swedish firm tefficient, we can track the global relationship between mobile data usage and network congestion. 

For this project, tefficient joined Tutela data on average download throughput and network congestion (measured as the percentage decrease in download throughput between off-peak and on-peak hours) with their analysis of operator data usage and revenue. 

The results, which you can find in full here, make for interesting reading. There appears to be a correlation (although far from perfect) between data usage and average download throughput: operators in mature markets where data usage is capped by price see resultant high throughput speeds; other operators, such as several Zain affiliates, see high data usage and resulting low throughputs. 

When looking at data usage and the decrease in download speed performance, things become less clear. The most interesting thing is the handful of operators, such as DNA and Elisa in Finland and LG U+ in South Korea that have extremely high data usage but see minimal drops in download performance at peak times. That supports previous research from Tutela and Rewheel, which suggested that elements of network infrastrucutre and planning, such as site density per capita, are the most critical components of ensuring consistent network performance, regardless of data usage. 



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