Even small delays and disturbances raise the level of tension and stress, and have a negative impact on subscriber loyalty and operator brand, according to a neuroscience research project conducted by Ericsson and Vodafone Germany. Electroencephalography (EEG) equipment was used to monitor the brain activity of 150 subscribers who had volunteered for the project in Düsseldorf, Germany.

The subscribers taking part in the study were required to complete 13 specific tasks in 10 minutes using a smartphone, while a degradation in the quality-of-service was simulated. The tasks included common actions such as browsing web pages, streaming videos, and uploading selfies. In addition to the EEG equipment, eye-tracking gear and pulse meters were used to monitor the attention span and heart rate of the subscribers.

To examine how subscriber loyalty and brand perception were affected, the study was complemented with a questionnaire that the subscribers filled out before and after carrying out the tasks.

Guido Weißbrich, director, network performance, Vodafone Germany, said: "The study proves how quickly smartphone users become unsatisfied when a broadband network is not performing at its best. A mere one-second delay when downloading or uploading content has a significant negative impact on the user experience, so streaming services must do everything to avoid lengthy buffering or freezing of content."

"It is essential for operators to understand how people actually feel about the service they provide and how it really impacts their day to day lives," said Bradley Mead, head of managed services and network design and optimisation at Business Unit Network Services, Ericsson.