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Slow video buffering a horror show, Danes say

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Slow video buffering triggers the same stress response as scary movies or complex math problems. Photo: Colourbox
09:31 CET+01:00
Video streaming delays generate as much stress as watching a horror film, a Danish study has revealed.
Swedish tech company Ericsson, which sells equipment to mobile telephone companies to accelerate download speeds and prevent delays or buffering, said its study of Danish media consumers measured the heart rate, brain activity and eye movements of people watching videos on a mobile phone.
 
People were asked to perform tasks on deadline during the study, which required them to watch a badly buffered video download. Subjects experienced an average heart rate jump of 38 percent.
 
If this buffering delay lasted six seconds, “the stress response to delays was similar to that of watching a horror movie or solving a mathematical problem and greater than waiting in a check-out line at the grocery store”, Ericsson said in its quarterly report on trends in the mobile internet.
 
The test was conducted in Denmark, which boasts some of the world's fastest mobile internet speeds. The Danish government has set a goal of ensuring download speeds of 100 megabits per second in every household by the year 2020, while Danish mobile providers deliver download speeds of up to 44 megabits per second.
 
Ericsson's report showed that mobile data traffic, which includes streaming, increased by 65 percent over the past 12 months. 
 
Even “moderate delays result in a double negative for mobile operators: decreased engagement with their brand and increased engagement with competitors,” it said.

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“Offering customers good network performance when it is needed is a key to improving brand equity,” for mobile companies, Ericsson concluded.
 
Danes are some of the most tech-loving people in Europe. The 2015 Digital Economy and Society index ranked Denmark as the best country in the EU for digital performance while a 2014 report from the International Telecommunications Union concluded that Denmark is the most connected country in the world, having overtaken South Korea in terms of cellphone and internet use.  

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