Taming the mobile data deluge with drop zones

Ionut Trestian*, Supranamaya Ranjan, Aleksandar Kuzmanovic, Antonio Nucci

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Human communication has changed by the advent of smartphones. Using commonplace mobile device features, they started uploading large amounts of content that increases. This increase in demand will overwhelm capacity and limits the providers' ability to provide the quality of service demanded by their users. In the absence of technical solutions, cellular network providers are considering changing billing plans to address this. Our contributions are twofold. First, by analyzing user content upload behavior, we find that the user-generated content problem is a user behavioral problem. Particularly, by analyzing user mobility and data logs of 2 million users of one of the largest US cellular providers, we find that: 1) users upload content from a small number of locations; 2) because such locations are different for users, we find that the problem appears ubiquitous. However, we find that: 3) there exists a significant lag between content generation and uploading times, and 4) with respect to users, it is always the same users to delay. Second, we propose a cellular network architecture. Our approach proposes capacity upgrades at a select number of locations called Drop Zones. Although not particularly popular for uploads originally, Drop Zones seamlessly fall within the natural movement patterns of a large number of users. They are therefore suited for uploading larger quantities of content in a postponed manner. We design infrastructure placement algorithms and demonstrate that by upgrading infrastructure in only 963 base stations across the entire US, it is possible to deliver 50% of content via Drop Zones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6068267
Pages (from-to)1010-1023
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2012


  • Cellular networks
  • mobile communication
  • scheduling algorithm
  • user-generated content

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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