Social ties and their relevance to churn in mobile telecom networks
Social Network Analysis has emerged as a key paradigm in modern sociology, technology, and information sciences. The paradigm stems from the view that the attributes of an individual in a network are less important than their ties (relationships) with other individuals in the network. Exploring the nature and strength of these ties can help understand the structure and dynamics of social networks and explain real-world phenomena, ranging from organizational efficiency to the spread of information and disease. In this paper, we examine the communication patterns of millions of mobile phone users, allowing us to study the underlying social network in a large-scale communication network. Our primary goal is to address the role of social ties in the formation and growth of groups, or communities, in a mobile network. In particular, we study the 'evolution of churners in an operator's network spanning over a period of four months. Our analysis explores the propensity of a subscriber to churn out of a service provider's network depending on the number of ties (friends) that have already churned. Based on our findings, we propose a spreading activation-based technique that predicts potential churners by examining the current set of churners and their underlying social network. The efficiency of the prediction is expressed as a lift curve, which indicates the fraction of all churners that can be caught when a certain fraction of subscribers were contacted.