How to avoid bandwidth and latency issues with the mobile Web site
July 31, 2014
Dritan Suljoti is chief product officer of Catchpoint Systems Inc.
It is no secret that people love their mobile phone, but the affinity for this device extends beyond its ability to send and receive phone calls and text messages on-the-go.
Sure, when the mobile phone was first introduced, it was pretty amazing to be able to leave your home without losing communication with your friends and family. Several decades later, though, the novelty of that technology has long worn-off.
For this reason, mobile Internet access has rapidly evolved from a mere luxury that only the upper-echelon devices offered to an absolute necessity. That is right, a necessity.
The productivity of our lives, both personal and professional, practically lives and dies by our mobile Internet access, which makes the performance of your company’s mobile Web site invaluable.
People have no patience for slow-loading sites and applications on their mobile phones anymore. In fact, the very nature of mobile devices – used while on the go – places a premium on speed and convenience.
By using the latest technologies for mobile Web performance, companies have been able to significantly enhance the experience, namely speed and reliability, for their end users.
However, the total elimination of mobile Internet connection errors and slowdowns is far from complete. This means that your site is more than likely battling other causes of poor mobile Web performance, including lack of bandwidth, bandwidth hogging and the inherent latency of mobile networks.
Lack of bandwidth and bandwidth hogging are among the biggest culprits for poor mobile Web performance.
For example, a substantial amount of Internet end users are now doing the bulk of their video streaming from a mobile device.
A whopping 50 million people in the United States alone are now watching video on their mobile phones – that is 15 percent of the global online video hours.
In addition, 40 percent of YouTube’s traffic is now coming from mobile.
Web page content also plays a large role in bandwidth hogging. It is a simple equation: the more bytes that are required to display your page, the more bandwidth it uses and the more likely it is that the end user will run into problems trying to load the page on a mobile device.
More often than not, these situations result in the end user resorting to immediate page refreshes that only exacerbate the load on the cellular network.
Simply put, mobile Internet connections are not built to handle the overwhelming size of sites that are created for a desktop or laptop.
Latency is inherently higher on mobile networks, which means you have to take the extra step to ensure that all of the elements within your control are optimized for speed and performance.
While there is no simple fix for latency issues just yet, there are some measures that can be taken to make significant improvements, such as reducing the amount of transmission control protocol (TCP) connections and domain name system (DNS) lookups that your site requires. These elements require more network activity, which causes latency to compound.
Choosing to serve your content through a content delivery network (CDN) is another effective way to reduce latency.
A CDN offers the ability to serve content through its distributed edge servers that are geographically closer to end users, resulting in significantly reduced latency.
Lighter pages equal happier mobile users
Avoiding each and every one of the potential problems that can arise regarding your mobile Web site may not be possible, but it is not a doomed venture, either.
Just because the mobile networks are feeling the strain of heavy traffic, it does not mean that your site has to go down with it.
So, instead of lamenting the problems that are out of your control, such as bandwidth-hogging user practices, take the time to find the issues that are within your reach of solving and tackle them head-on.
You need to truly understand which features and functions mobile end users use on the go, and eliminate other features that they are not apt to use and are slowing access unnecessarily.
In addition, consider adopting adaptive mobile Web design practices, which can help you pare down and deliver content to only what is needed for specific devices. The result: a lighter mobile site that will hold its own in the dog-eat-dog world of the Web.