In early 2010, BlackBerry’s then-Chief Executive coined the expression “datapocalypse,” which was used to describe his vision of the North American carriers collapsing under the sheer volume of data traffic expected by customers. At the time, BlackBerry’s technology compressed data used by the devices such that it was around one third that of competing devices. The prophecy was given against the backdrop of carrier networks struggling to cope with the significant increase in demand for data, driven by a sharp intake in customers switching from feature ‘phones to both Android smartphones and the iPhone. Presumably, the datapocalypse would have played out like a bad B-movie, with customers wandering the streets looking for a faster Internet connection to update their Facebook status. Fortunately, technology quickly overtook the datapocalypse disaster and LTE networks were deployed. As a technology, LTE has three core advantages over HSPA: a mast has a much higher subscriber capacity, the data network has a much faster transfer speed and finally, a much lower latency (that being, the time it takes for the network to respond to a request). Carriers quickly deployed LTE networks as it helps them provide customers with a better service, and reduced the burden of many subscribers competing for data bandwidth.
In the five and a half years since, carriers all over the world have invested a significant sum of money into developing, maintaining and upgrading their LTE high speed data networks. Customers have upgraded their smartphones, tablets, portable WiFi hotspots and laptop dongles in order to access these high speed networks. Now that networks are able to provide customers with a reliable and high performance network, carriers are coming up with ideas into how to persuade customers to benefit from the technology. Simply being able to access websites and email attachments quicker than over the 3G HSPA or 2G EDGE networks is, for many people, not so much of an incentive. Furthermore, it does not increase the amount of data used by customers, but simply allows them to do things quicker. It’s in the carriers’ interests to encourage customers to use more data because they will need to buy more data. If the carrier has built the infrastructure, increasing the data used by customers is a near clean drop straight to the carrier’s profits.
One of the greediest uses of data on a modern smartphone or tablet device is streaming video. Today’s advanced video compression algorithms are designed to reduce or increase the quality and data used depending on the speed of the connection, which works to the carrier’s advantage as it means when there is a stable, high speed connection, customers benefit from high definition quality videos and they benefit from greater data usage. This fact is not lost on the world’s carriers and many of the incentives dreamed up by marketing departments include streaming live video to connected devices. Verizon Wireless’ latest idea is exactly this: operating under the hashtag “#WhyNotWednesday,” Verizon are encouraging customers to “sample the best of the digital world” by offering the latest music, sports, fashion, entertainment and technology digital content on a Wednesday. This week, Verizon are offering customers a live stream (via Periscope) of the MTV Video Music Awards, which kicks off on Sunday 30 August. Customers can experience the red carpet event with Verizon’s host, Vanessa Hudgens, able to go wherever she goes during the event. And every Wednesday, Verizon will publish a new event via their Tumblr website, promoted via Twitter, under the #WhyNotWednesday hashtag. If you are a Verizon customer and need a service to utilize your data, #WhyNotWednesday may well be just the thing you are looking for!