Fundamental differences in The Mobile Life of British, Finnish and German Consumers

How do people use their mobile devices in Europe ?

In the previous post we looked at mobile operators in the United Kingdom, and how their serve their users. The analysis showed that British consumers were rather conservative in their use of the mobile networks. Now, let’s turn the discussion into users and their daily life. We add also WIFI networks into this discussion.

To put the results into perspective, we also added Finnish and German users and their daily mobile life.

We begin with looking at how these different citizens divide their network usage.

This graph shows how often consumers use cellular or WIFI networks in their daily mobile phone usage. Finns have mostly unlimited data plans and as a consequence mostly use cellular networks with their apps. British and German consumers pay much more for their mobile data and therefore look for WIFI networks in most of their daily network usage, roughly 75% of the time their mobile devices are connected to a WIFI networks (as opposed to Finns doing that only around 40% of the time).

Let’s look at the bit rates these different consumers look for on average. As discussed in our earlier blog posts, the Netradar technology can differentiate from network usage sessions the cases where the user’s app got all the bit rate it needed and the cases where the user would have wanted more but the network limited the speed. This latter case is similar to an old-fashioned speed test: fill the network with so much data that it will be throttled and slowed down. In our case, the data is transmitted by the end user’s ordinary apps, not a specific speed test software.


The left figure shows the daily need of bit rate in cellular and the right side the same for WIFI networks. What we can see is that Finns use heavier apps over cellular (as they seldomly need to worry about data plans), British are not that far behind but Germans are the most cautious of these three countries. Over WIFI the different is much smaller, Finns still are used to somewhat heavier apps but British and Germans are very similar.

Upload speeds show the same trend, Finns don’t really care that much and British and German consumers are more cautious over cellular. WIFI numbers are also similar to the above.

Let’s take another look, at the average day of a mobile consumer in these three countries.

These figures show the daily life of British consumers, relative to the peak/busy hour. The left figure shows the total device usage throughout a day, from midnight to midnight. The peak usage hour is (yellow line) around 22-23 o’clock ( 10-11pm). This is when Brits use their devices the most during the day. Yet, as we discussed earlier, the usage is divided between cellular and WIFI networks. Looking at the grey line, we can see that in the evening most usage is over WIFI, and cellular usage peaks around lunch time in the UK. Likewise the use of WIFI to run mobile apps is highest, and clearly, at home, in the early morning and the late evening (green line, left figure still). Note that the sum of the green and grey lines is always 100%, it simply shows how the usage is divided among the two primary network technologies through the hours of the day.

We can also look at the individual network technologies. The right figure tells another story. Looking at the red line, we can see that cellular usage in the UK peaks around 17-18 o’clock (5-6pm). That’s when the British consumers are using cellular networks the most. After that usage drops, probably has people head home and connect to their home networks. WIFI Usage peaks just before midnight around 22-23 (1), shown on the blue line, right figure. Never during the day the British consumers use more cellular networks than WIFI.

Now, let’s take Finland next. Here are the same figures:

The story with Finns is very different. The peak hours for all mobile device usage and even WIFI usage are the same as in the UK, around 22-23 o’clock. The fraction of hourly usage that goes into cellular is actually very high compared to the UK. Finns use cellular data more than WIFI during most of the day. From the morning when people typically leave home to go to work, school, etc., people connect to the cellular network for their data needs and jump onto WIFI only now and then. Only in the very late evening Finnish consumers might use more WIFI networks than cellular.

Another interesting finding and difference is the busy hour. Over WIFI it is similar to the UK, but in cellular, the busiest hour is actually also the late evening, around 22-23 o’clock. So even in the evenings at home, Finns tend to use the cellular network even though most would have a home WIFI or similar at their disposal (or maybe they don’t because there is no need after all).

For the Germans, the story is very similar to the British consumers. Here goes:

These figures are almost the same for German consumers as for the British. Similar peak hours for all mobile device usage, for WIFI and cellular. By looking at the graphs, you can not tell the difference between these two nations – Finns are very different here.

We’ll look at other aspects of consumers and networks around the world in later posts, so stay tuned. Maybe we could look at data usage in terms of amount of data people use, what service and Service Level Score people experience during the day, etc., who knows. Part 2 coming soon.