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Measuring the difference “location, location, location” makes to Mobile web performance

The new version of the mobile performance testing app was out yesterday and it has support for automated testing. Given that my wife was taking the car to the garage today for its annual MOT inspection this was a great chance to easily do some real location-dependent mobile testing.

So I installed the performance test browser on her Android HTC Desire, went to the test page and fired off the “30sec Google Loop Test”. This is a simple test that goes to, beacons the performance data back to, pauses for 30 secs and then repeats.

Since the performance browser is location-aware via GPS I was able to track the my wife’s journey and see the performance along the route. The pin markers represent a test location, and they are colour coded via the performance thresholds you can see in the legend below.

Mobile Performance Map

Mobile performance map 2


The variation in performance is truly enormous… the fastest being about 5.2 secs (stationary, just before leaving home, low signal strength (1ASU) but on HSDPA).

mobile performance waterfall

raw data 1

The slowest, by comparison… nearly 90secs, whilst moving, (_di_gps_current_speed=>16.75) over GPRS (_di_cellular_network_type=>GPRS). Unusually slow for my wife’s driving, she must have been behind a truck Smile

slower test waterfall

raw data 2

The Google Map’s view can show you exactly where the person was when the test was taken but, sadly, not whether there was a truck in front of them at the time. Although a enhanced reality version that overlaid video data with page loading performance test data would be cool…

map view

Poor Vodafone doesn’t come off to well in the network rankings but given the smaller number of beta testers at the moment one or two bad tests can probably really skew the ranking data.

mobile network rankings

It’s hard to draw any “hard and fast” conclusions at this stage about the key factors re location-based performance – we need to crunch some larger datasets to come up with statistically valid data.

One interesting fact – two tests, 90 secs apart, went from ~5sec to ~38sec.

The key difference?

The cell tower changed.

_di_cell_tower_current_id => GSM cid/30340667 lac/206 mcc/234 mnc/15

_di_cell_tower_current_id => GSM cid/30340518 lac/206 mcc/234 mnc/15

The ASU after the change dropped from 23 ASU to 3 ASU (although the network stayed HSDPA).

It’s interesting to speculate on the performance impact cell switching and/or signal strength has on performance.

I look forward to learning “Just Enough Stats to be dangerous” at John Rauser’s session at Velocity and hopefully once we get some larger datasets when can do some correlation.

Ditto hopefully I can talk to some of the Vodafone guys at Dylan’s London Ajax Mobile Conference and find out more about the technicalities of mobile cell handover and data performance.

If you have an Android phone and want to join the beta test programme hop over to and sign up. For “sponsor” pick “Seriti Consulting” and put my name “Steve Thair” in the box below.

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    Measuring the difference "location, location, location" makes to Mobile web performance - Seriti Consulting Blog (@TheOpsMgr) - Seriti Consulting - The Web Operations and Management Specialists

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