Netradar India: A User Study

About the Netradar India project

Netradar India is a crowdsourced user study to measure the cellular infrastructures in developing countries especially India.Telecom operators (e.g Airtel, Idea and Reliance) are advertising and selling 4G/LTE SIM cards to support higher data speeds in major cities but is the network infrastructure in these cities ready to provide such services to the users?

Well… That is what we want to find out through the Netradar India project.

‘India will have 9 crore 4G subscribers by 2018’, says the experts and it is evident from the sales of the major telecom operators. But we feel that the infrastructure such as cellular base stations and mobile backhauls of our cities have not been upgraded to support 4G/LTE services yet. This will result in lower Quality of Experience (QoE) while using 4G SIM card.

Imagine this situation (which could be very close to reality)....

You are a Bangalorean and you have bought a 4G sim card for faster cellular data connection. But you see slow Internet connection in more than half of the places in Bangalore !! So even if you have 4G SIM and expensive data plans, you literally are not using the 4G services that are promised by your telecom operators. That is bad, isn’t it?

So, we are conducting this crowdsourced user study to measure the infrastructure capabilities in Bangalore. More the number of people participate in this study, more is the number of infrastructure that we can measure and analyze. Using the crowdsourcing technology we want to cover multiple locations in Bangalore.

We are approaching you, the people of Bengaluru to help us collect some data by using the Netradar application on your mobile phone.The users registered for the study are requested to follow a set of instructions and measure the infrastructure at various locations in Bangalore for a week. The effort required by the user is as simple as installing a Mobile App and doing some initial setting. The app takes care of the measurement without any user intervention.

Once the data is collected we run some tests on the data to report the Quality of Infrastructure.

The Internet is now an all powerful medium, especially the emerging mobile technologies has contributed largely to the massive usage of Internet throughout the world. On one end, we have the developed world where access is getting faster and services being developed to utilize faster access. On the other end, there are people who do not have access to the quality Internet. Even if they have such access, they are trapped by the promises made by candid advertisements which merely contributes to the revenue of Internet Service Providers (ISP)/mobile operators. These shortcomings are probably due to lack of infrastructure support (which accounts to the notion of the digital divide problem faced by most people in developed countries).

Through this study we want to address the problem of digital exclusion through cellular networking technology. We believe that the outcome of our research analysis will help to improve problems related to feasibility, scalability, security, privacy challenges, robustness, resource allocation, sustainability, performance etc.

Furthermore we want to create awareness on the infrastructural limitations to adapt new technologies and hence answer the question - 'How ethical it is for the cellular service providers to sell their products to the common people when they do not have enough infrastructure to support?'.

In a nutshell we collect and measure quality of your mobile internet connection. More specifically, we collect the following information: Location from GPS, network or WLAN, Download and upload speeds, Latency, Manufacturer, model, operating system and version, Network and subscriber operator, Signal strength, Base station, Mobile technology, such as UMTS, HSPA, IP address and transport ports, both public and private, Timestamp.

Using these we build coverage maps for mobile operators, compare devices and measure the services provided by the mobile operators.

We use a mobile application called Netradar- developed by the researchers at Department of Communications and Networking, Aalto University Finland. For further information about the Netradar app, please visit http://www.netradar.org/en/about.

No. All the data that we collect is anonymous. The system is designed so that no personal information such as name or addresses are gathered - our system is only gathering and presenting technical data. No personal information is stored.

We are two hardcore Bengalureans - Siddharth and Kiran, currently doing our research in Aalto University, Finland. We believe that our beloved silicon city needs better digital facilities and that is why we are interested in conducting pilot of this project in Namma Bengaluru.

You contribute to a research that tries to improve the digital infrastructure and services around the globe. Along with us, you will help us to improve the mobile networks.

Contact Details:
Kiran Kumar(kiran.kumar@aalto.fi)
Siddharth Rao (siddharth.rao@aalto.fi)