A neuroscience experiment by Vodafone Germany and Ericsson has found that poor mobile network performance very quickly causes “stress” in users and damages subscriber loyalty.
Electroencephalography equipment, eye-tracking gear and pulse meters were used to monitor the brain and body activity of 150 volunteers, who also completed a survey.
The participants were given tasks, such as browsing web pages, streaming videos or uploading photos, to complete on a smartphone while a degradation in quality of service was simulated.
Billed as a world-first use of neuroscience, the experiment found that the negative impacts of poor performance were almost instantaneous.
The average net promoter score was found to fall from a high positive score (+31) to a negative (-15) after only a one-second delay in loading videos on YouTube.
Experiencing buffering in a short YouTube video can cause a 24 percent rise in stress, with each additional buffer increasing the user’s stress response by another five to seven percent.
In addition, participants showed a 47 percent rise in stress from a one-second delay in uploading a ‘selfie’ to the internet.
Another 47 percent of smartphone users lost interest in uploading the picture after a two-second delay and the majority gave up completely after eight seconds, the experiment found.
There was variation between age groups; those under 35 were 35 percent more stressed by a given mobile delay than adults over 35.
Those experiencing problems viewing a YouTube video blamed not only the mobile operator, but YouTube and even the mobile device manufacturer.
Guido Weißbrich, Director Network Performance at Vodafone Germany, said: "The study proves how quickly smartphone users become unsatisfied when a broadband network is not performing at its best.”
Bradley Mead, Head of Managed Services and Network Design and Optimization at Business Unit Network Services at Ericsson, added: "It is essential for operators to understand how people actually feel about the service they provide and how it really impacts their day to day lives.
“We now have valuable data that can be used to optimise and engineer networks to maximise the experience when using popular applications."
Ericsson said the results of the experiment have led it to launch a Neurometric Analysis tool to its App experience optimisation offering.