Understanding Data Usage Patterns of Geographically Diverse Mobile Users

Ermias Andargie Walelgne, Alemnew Sheferaw Asrese, Jukka Manner, Vaibhav Bajpai, Jorg Ott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The increasing trend of the traffic demand from mobile users and the presence of limited resources creates a challenge for network resource management. Understanding the data usage pattern and traffic demand of mobile users is a way forward to enable data-driven network resource management. However, due to the complex nature of mobile networks, understanding and characterizing data usage pattern of mobile users is a daunting task. In this work, we investigate and characterize data usage patterns and behavior of users in mobile networks. We leverage a dataset (340 M records) collected through a crowd-based mobile network measurement platform - Netradar - across six countries. We elucidate different network factors and study how they affect the data usage patterns by taking mobile users in Finland as a use case. We perform a comparison on data usage patterns of mobile users across six countries by considering total data consumption, network access, the number of sessions created per user, throughput, and user satisfaction level on services. We show that data usage behavior of users over a mobile network is primarily driven by user mobility, the type of data subscription plan marketed by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), network congestion, and network coverage. Besides, the data usage patterns over different network technologies (e.g., preferring cellular over WiFi) and the percentage of users accessing congested networks vary by country; mostly due to the market pricing strategy and radio coverage. However, the overall data consumption (cellular and WiFi) is comparatively similar in most of the countries we studied.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9256273
Pages (from-to)3798-3812
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Network and Service Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Network performance
  • SLS
  • cellular network
  • data usage patterns
  • mobile user behavior
  • user satisfaction


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