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5G needed quickly before mobile video boom overwhelms networks

Opensignal’s State of Mobile Video Experience report shows that the video boom is causing concern over mobile experiences before 5G becomes mainstream

Until 5G is rolled out at scale, mobile carriers, especially those in the US, will face difficult choices around increasing the price of data, or of managing streaming traffic tightly, warns mobile network performance analyst Opensignal.

In its second annual State of mobile video experience report, Opensignal looked at mobile experience in 100 countries, with a particular focus on the US, to illustrate operator challenges and opportunities in the face of an increasing consumer appetite for streaming video on mobile devices and enterprise users watching video conferences.

This appetite has been broadened with the launch of almost dedicated mobile video services from Apple and, in particular, Disney, with leading US mobile carrier Verizon is offering new customers to its 5G service a year’s subscription to Disney+.

The analyst found that with the ubiquity of 4G connectivity and a growing number of mobile subscribers on unlimited data plans, consumers were mass watching TV shows and films over wireless. The study found that nearly half (46%) of all consumers said they watch movies and TV programmes on their mobile device.

Yet this was already having a profound effect on the quality of experience on the 4G networks. As many as 44% of users noted they experienced stuttering or freezing, and an additional 36% said they sometimes switch to Wi-Fi for a better video experience  on their smartphone. Almost a third said they would give up trying to watch a video if video playback stuttered or froze on their mobile device.

Opensignal attributed these issues to wireless spectrum in the main. It said that capacity was essential to offering large numbers of users both fast speeds and plans with the large volumes of data needed for large-scale, high-quality mobile video delivery.

In its research, the monitoring company warned that until 5G was rolled out at scale in the US, carriers would face difficult choices around increasing the price of data, or of managing video streaming traffic tightly – for example, to lower quality experience. Opensignal added that if they did neither, the download experience of their users will likely suffer as video traffic overwhelmed everything else on the network.

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