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The Mobile World Congress edition of the 2016 Ericsson Mobility Report reveals the impact of different levels of network performance on smartphone users and their perceptions of mobile operators and digital content providers.

Neuroscience technology was used to objectively measure emotional responses to varied smartphone experiences. Delays in loading web pages and videos under time pressure caused mobile users' heart rates to rise an average of 38 percent. Six-second delays to video streaming caused stress levels to increase by a third.

To put that in context, the stress incurred is equivalent to the anxiety of taking a math test or watching a horror movie alone, and greater than the stress experienced by standing at the edge of a virtual cliff. Once a video begins, an additional pause can cause stress levels to increase dramatically.

In the study, the Net Promoter Score (NPS) of an operator increased significantly when associated with a delay-free experience - by 4.5 points. This finding was also reflected when measuring emotional engagement, using a neuroscience-based motivational index.

However, the operator's NPS dropped on average four points with moderate time-to-content and re-buffering delays. Interestingly, moderate delays result in a double negative for mobile operators: decreased engagement with their brand and increased engagement with competitors.

Rafiah Ibrahim, Head of Ericsson Region Middle East and Africa, said: "90 percent of the world's population expected to be covered by advanced mobile broadband networks by 2021. At the same time, more than 50 percent of the world's population today still lacks internet access, especially in emerging markets across our region. This provides a great opportunity for the operators in the region. At the same time, in the advanced markets, the report clearly shows the rapid uptake of data consumption such as video streaming, this is also another area of opportunity to provide better connectivity and differentiated customer experience."

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