Deutsche Telekom has said that it is analyzing customers’ data in order to optimize the use of 5G. The data is analyzed anonymously and shows how certain mobile locations interact with certain smartphone models.
The German operator tests and measures new mobile sites to make 5G run faster and cover larger parts of territory. The smartphones are mounted on vehicles, and their reception and performance are continuously measured while driving. A scanner records the mobile site signal that is received by the smartphones. In a process called anchoring, 4G/LTE technology acts as an anchor to pull 5G into the network and enable faster data transmission.
In the transition from 4G/LTE to 5G, operators find it to be in their interest to maximize the efficiency of the high-speed signal and make sure that mobile devices on the network can switch back and forth between 4G and 5G.
Deutsche Telekom is currently running tests on its mobile sites and on a variety of smartphones to ascertain signal strength and device performance. In parallel with that, it is also analyzing anonymized customer data to assess real-world performance. Because the number of 5G users on the operator’s network is still comparatively small, the data sampling is of necessity less rich than would be optimal, but DT has decided that it is better to start small and build up the sample size than to wait for a time when there are more users. This decision makes sense in that the goal is to ensure that the user experience improves steadily as the network matures.
The use of customer data is of course a sensitive subject in today’s world, with hackers and other entities invading privacy and causing consternation among users. In order to deliver the best products and services and maximize the customer’s experience, operators need to access customer data, but in doing so they court the risk of alienating customers over privacy concerns. The solution is to be transparent, explain to customers that the data will be fully anonymized, and to emphasize the benefits to the customer of the data and its analysis. If this is done in an open and clear manner, there should be little or no problem.