The biggest streaming video problem these days is so accepted and so omnipresent that we don’t event think about it. It’s that we often can’t upload videos from major events and share them with our friends because the local networks are too congested.

 

I realized this the other day when I read about mobile network testing by Global Wireless Solutions, a Virginia-based network benchmarking company. GWS sent data collection teams to New Orleans during Mardi Gras (nice work if you can get it) to run thousands of network performance tests. They rated the overall experience a 66 out of 100, or a D.

How did NOLA earn that D? Here are the numbers: Uploading video took 34 seconds along a parade route, compared to the national average of 13 seconds. It was almost as bad in the French Quarter at 27 seconds. GWS thinks networks weren’t as congested in the Quarter because people were packed so tightly on Bourbon Street they couldn’t reach their phones.

Video uploading averaged 30 seconds during the 4 days of Mardi Gras testing. Uploading photos averaged 14 seconds. Even in Times Square on New Year’s Eve photo uploading took only 6 seconds, the company says.

“We expected there to be poor performance during Mardi Gras but not as bad as we experienced this year,” one reveler told GWS. This failure of the networks causes frustration and dampens the fun.

What can we do about it, other than look at the calendar and wait for 5G to arrive? Networks are stepping up, but not enough. GWS noticed that multi-carrier aggregation increased substantially this year, but it still couldn’t keep up with demand.

“When consumers are faced with network performance issues, restarting their phones may stop any process that is creating issues and will also allow the device to re-establish a potentially better connection to the network,” Paul Carter, CEO of GWS told me. “Consumers can also seek out a location with a strong Wi-Fi signal, such as a coffee shop or hotel lobby.”

If that doesn’t work, consider changing carriers or getting a newer phone, he advised. Newer tech can access newer frequency bands. The real burden, of course, is on the carriers: They need to increase temporary cell sites durng large events.

“The cost, time, and effort of adding additional equipment and network resources—even temporarily—can be substantial, so there is a trade-off,” Carter added.