The explosive growth of smartphones and app usage bring new challenges to mobile operators. App coverage is an approach to meet those challenges by translating users’ expectations into network performance targets.

Smartphones and tablets have become the access devices of choice, as mobile user behavior has shifted from being predominantly voice-centric to app-centric. Operators therefore need new ways to assess performance and the quality of the user experience to enable them to build and manage their networks in the most efficient, targeted and profitable way.

In addition, operators must be increasingly aware of the usage of both devices and apps in their networks. And as new apps that utilize the capabilities of smartphones emerge and are adopted by users, they will fuel further demand for better app coverage. A fundamental question for operators should therefore be: "How can we enable the best user experience for as many users as possible, anywhere in the network, given the apps and devices in use today?"

As a response to this challenge, Ericsson proposes a new approach to network performance, called app coverage. From a user perspective, app coverage is the area within a mobile network’s coverage that can deliver sufficient performance to run an application at an acceptable quality level. From an operator perspective, it is about offering the user a high probability of getting a targeted performance level anywhere in the network. App coverage integrates all aspects of network performance – including radio network throughput and latency, capacity, as well as the performance of the backhaul, packet core and content delivery networks. Ultimately, managing performance demands a true end-to-end approach to designing, building and running mobile networks. As improving and maintaining the quality of user experience is a continuous process, operators will need to adapt continually as mobile devices, apps and network capabilities all develop in parallel.

Operators that are able to establish, demonstrate and promote a superior consumer experience will become the leaders in driving customer satisfaction, loyalty and lifetime value, as well as enable new business opportunities.