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Mobile Network Performance Discourages Social Media Activity at Coachella

Global Wireless Solutions Event-O-Meter Measures Mobile Network Performance at the 2019 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) evaluated mobile network performance while rocking out at the fifth largest music festival in the world, Coachella. In particular, GWS network test specialists measured how well the mobile networks managed the surge in connectivity and social media traffic from the 750,000 estimated music fans that attended this popular event in Indio, California.

Global Wireless Solutions Event-O-Meter measures mobile network performance at the 2019 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

In terms of overall performance during the festival, mobile networks posted a OneScore of 38 – the equivalent of an F; which is also the lowest scoring performance for large events tested so far this year. GWS Event-O-Meter also recently recorded OneScores of 76 at last week’s Boston Marathon, 87 and 70 at MLB’s Opening Day at Nationals Park and Yankee Stadium respectively, 66 for last month’s Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and 77 for New Year’s Eve in Times Square.

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“It appears that operators did not deploy enough temporary equipment to manage the enormous increase in data traffic during the festival; as a result, attendees probably spent more time simply watching and listening to their favorite artists rather than posting about it on social media,” said Dr. Paul Carter, CEO and founder of Global Wireless Solutions, Inc. (GWS). “There are many considerations that network operators likely contemplate before investing in this once-a-year event. While there are massive crowds, they do quickly disappear from the polo grounds once the grand finale is over on Sunday night. Striking the right balance between available capacity, temporary vs. permanent infrastructure costs, and happy customers can be extremely challenging at these types of events. While this event received a very low mobile performance score because social media activities were constrained, the networks did ensure that essential services, voice calling and texting, were generally available.”

This report marks the fifth GWS Event-O-Meter for 2019, a measure of network performance at popular events nationwide and a barometer for how American consumers experience wireless connectivity when networks are trying to accommodate heavy traffic. The GWS Event-O-Meter is based on the company’s OneScore evaluation process, a measurement of overall performance that takes into account voice, data, video, coverage, and reliability metrics based on customer experience.

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Event-O-Meter Key Findings at 2019 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival:

GWS performed three days of testing throughout the Empire Polo Club where Coachella was held including all areas where artists performed, as well as art installation locations, VIP lounges, main entrance and Ferris wheel area, and food, beverage and market areas. The mobile networks scored a 38 out of 100 for overall performance at this popular event.

GWS results also revealed the following while testing:

  • 93 percent of voice calls were completed successfully.
  • Data-related tasks, like web browsing and uploading posts to social media, saw success rates of 88 percent (to put this into perspective, GWS testing specialists normally see reliability rates at large events above 95% for both voice and data related activities).
  • Video uploads took a grueling 48 seconds (over 4 times slower than what revelers experienced in Times Square on New Year’s Eve).
  • Photos and selfie uploads took an equally painful 23 seconds (not much fun if you’re trying to watch your favorite band on Coachella’s main stage and make sure your Instagram uploaded).

The volume of network traffic appears to have overwhelmed the available resources at Coachella; however, GWS did see that all network operators deployed some level of advanced features such as two, three, and four channel carrier aggregation as well as 256QAM (a higher order advanced modulation technique). These features are becoming the norm in networks across the U.S. as GWS also saw a reasonably high rate of voice over LTE (VoLTE) calling (96% and above) and some usage of LTE multiplexing techniques (i.e., 2×2 and 4×4 multiple-input and multiple-output) particularly with 2×2 MIMO. Perhaps most notable amongst the operators was Verizon’s high usage of 3 and 4 channel CA and Sprint’s high usage of 2×2 MIMO.

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