Empirical analysis of mobile interpersonal communication service usage

Juuso Karikoski

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


The ways in which people communicate and keep in touch with each other are changing. Our relationships are shaped by the wide variety of communication possibilities available, and the overall increase in mediated communication. On the other hand, the relationships also shape the use of different means of communication. Since the proliferation of mobile phones, mobile voice calls and SMSs have become the world’s most ubiquitous form of mediated communication. More recently also newer mobile communication services have emerged, which are not necessarily provided by mobile operators, but based on the Internet instead. The merger of the mobile and Internet domains is further accelerating the changes in how we socialize. The purpose of this thesis is to empirically analyze the use of mobile interpersonal communication services by using a quantitatively driven mixed method design, with handset-based measurements as the core data collection method. The aim is to fill in the research gap of sparse objective user-level research on mobile communication service usage. Handset-based measurements enable collecting actual mobile phone usage data from users who have opted in to participate and install a research application to their devices. Because of the personal and social “always on” nature of the data collection device, we are able to collect rich location-based and context-sensitive data about how mobile communication services are used. The main data analyzed are collected from up to 200 participants from a longitudinal research panel with a span of more than a year. In addition to handset-based measurements, surveys and semi-structured interviews are used as complementary methods. In this thesis mobile communication services are found to be used differently based on a number of factors. Mobile phone use context and the strength of the tie between the persons communicating are the most salient ones. For example, SMSs are used more with strong ties when compared to voice calls. Moreover, the lengthiest and the briefest voice calls are made in the Home and Office contexts, respectively. Consequently, the usage interrelationships of mobile communication services are discussed from a mobile operator perspective. The use of multiple and dynamic datasets in social network analysis is also encouraged, as the analysis of different communication channels may or may not lead to different views of the social network under analysis. Thus, the thesis and the results of the research can be valuable for practitioners and academics in the area of mobile ecosystems, particularly mobile operators. The thesis also contributes to the emerging fields of communication and social network research, namely computational social science and social computing.
Translated title of the contributionMobiilien ihmistenvälisten viestintäpalveluiden käytön empiirinen analyysi
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Hämmäinen, Heikki, Supervising Professor
  • Hämmäinen, Heikki, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-5266-3
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-5267-0
Publication statusPublished - 2013
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • handset-based measurements
  • mobile services
  • interpersonal communication
  • social networks
  • usage analysis
  • mixed method

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