Banner of usage analytics for consumer phones

Building usage analytics

It’s here. Usage Analytics—one of our most anticipated features that will give users access to near real-time and historical data about how they use their devices. It brings enterprise-level usage analytics to every single line at US Mobile and will empower our customers to make better decisions about their phone plans.

Right after we released our new plans last month, we started building the infrastructure for usage analytics. This is a non-trivial problem for us because we receive different types of data from our network partners, and we get millions of data points every couple of minutes. This sheer volume of data then has to be processed quickly enough into something that could be displayed to our users.

Therefore, the big challenge in being able to show usage analytics is receiving, processing, and presenting that data in a meaningful way to users promptly. Being able to understand usage is fundamental to tailoring and using plans that are not one-size-fits-all. With customizable plans, not being able to understand usage is annoying at best; and at worst, it may mean users getting disconnected when they don’t expect it.

The first part of solving this problem consists of parsing and aggregating the massive volume of data that we receive. We built an entirely new multi-stage data pipeline that parses and structures the data to feed into the different services that Usage Analytics runs off of —like alerts, weekly views, aggregate usage data of all lines, and a whole list of other features in our pipeline.

The second part was a little more complicated—our iOS and Android apps did not have enough room for additional features. So, we redesigned our app navigation to add more space for not only Usage Insights, but also expansions of that feature and newer ones. To do that, we updated the overall visual design— improved typography, spacing, margins, shadows, colors—and added a “hamburger” menu. The navigation redesign will make room for other upcoming features like eSIMs, even more plan customizability, pooled plans, and more.

The third part was presenting all that data in a meaningful and actionable way. For example, a user should be able to quickly see how much data on average a line uses in a month so they can decide if they need to change their plans. Other carriers only show the total amount of talk, text or data that is used in the last month or the remaining balance for the current cycle. This reduces complexity but at a cost: users can’t see information like historical data, spot atypical usage, or find patterns that would enable them to make an informed decision about their plans. So we made historical data accessible and added intuitive settings that would allow users to see drill down and get the exact data they need. For example, if a user wanted to know how many minutes they used in a day and how different that is from the average minutes used per day in that month they can easily get that information. 

The net impact of this combined with near real-time data is that you will always know what your usage will look like, whether you use a lot or not, or whether you have one line or hundreds. 

Taking Usage Insights one step further,  US Mobile’s AI will eventually be able to look at users’ usage data and predict whether they need to buy a Top Up, recommend better plans and a whole lot more to make it easy for anyone to manage their (or their family’s) connectivity.