Performance Analysis of Mobile Broadband Networks With 5G Trends and Beyond: Rural Areas Scope in Malaysia

Shayea I., Ergen M., Azmi M. H., Nandi D., El-Salah A. A., Zahedi A.

IEEE ACCESS, vol.8, pp.65211-65229, 2020 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 8
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1109/access.2020.2978048
  • Journal Name: IEEE ACCESS
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Compendex, INSPEC, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Page Numbers: pp.65211-65229
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


This paper presents a multidimensional performance analysis of existing Mobile Broadband (MBB), Third Generation (3G) and Fourth Generation (4G) networks, of rural morphology in Malaysia. The MBB performance analysis is carried out based on measurement data obtained through Drive Tests (DT) conducted in rural areas located in three Malaysian states: Johor, Sarawak, and Sabah. The measurement data pertains to the performance of three national Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in rural areas: Maxis, Celcom, and DiGi. The MBB performance measurement data was collected between January and February using modified Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphone handsets. The measurement data of the 3G and 4G MBB networks are associated with four performance metrics (coverage, latency, satisfaction, and speed) for two MBB services: web browsing and video streaming. During the measurements, each smartphone collected the performance data of only one MBB service. Several classifications were identified to comprehensively monitor the performance of the two MBB services. For the data measurement of the MBB video streaming service, the same YouTube video was alternately played by the same smartphone, but with two different resolutions: 720p (low) and 1080p (high). For the data measurement of the MBB video streaming service, three different webpages (i.e., google, Instagram, and mstar) are sequentially browsed in a loop using another smartphone. This research work is designed to mimic real scenarios where the smartphone in use is not exclusively locked to a single technology while streaming a video or browsing a website. This allows the identification of the coverage for 2G, 3G, and/or 4G technologies within the tested areas. Due to the small amounts of 2G data, we omitted the analysis of 2G technology in the present study. The MBB performance analysis shows that, on average, the 4G network performed much better than the 3G network for all three MNOs throughout all measurement areas considered in this research. For instance, the 4G technology achieved a minimum of 42.4 ms on the web ping average RTT latency, while the 3G only achieved a minimum of 69.9 ms. For the average E2E RTT ping server latency, 4G achieved as low as 33.27 ms, while 3G obtained a minimum of 122.98 ms. The vMOS scores for 4G technology for both web browsing and video streaming services are larger than 3, while the 3G technology had a score of less than 3. The 4G technology can provide an improvement up to a factor of 4.2 and 1.6 in the download speed when browsing a web and streaming a video, respectively, in comparison to the 3G technology. These observations were found to be consistent across all mobile operators. This is unsurprising because we would expect consumers to experience a noticeable improvement when using a mobile broadband service over a 4G network as compared to a 3G network. The presented results provide a general direction for efficiently planning the Fifth Generation (5G) network in rural areas.