Wednesday 19 October 2016

Phone Notworks

No it's not a spelling mistake or typo - sadly I really do mean "Phone NOTworks"...

Those of you that know me well or personally are aware that I've spent a large part of my career being a customer of global network providers, and as just a long period of time working for & within one of the largest communications providers.

But, this blog entry is not about plugging or bashing any single company, but rather a number of points I think all the companies have missed.

So just what do I care about?

Well that in it's own right is an interesting question, not least of which, despite me spending over $2000 per year on mobile devices my supplier has never once in 25 years bothered to actually ask me what I want from them or what my priorities are!

Yes bizarre isn't it, for all the money being spent on 'big data' and 'analytics' to "get to know the customer better" nobody has ever addressed the elephant in the the corner of the room and actually asked me the simple question of "What are the top 3 things you're looking for?"

It seems many companies would be happier spending hundreds of millions on technology, rather than actually having a personal relationship with the customer.

So despite being a technologist, and an early adopter I believe my needs are fairly basic considering we're in the 21st century....

1. Coverage

I live in the south-east of the UK, I travel throughout the UK and Europe. Sadly, and despite the various maps people will point to and quote, phone coverage is generally poor unless I'm in a major city or within the centre of an urban town.

Get in a car or train, where there's time to use devices and make calls, and this is often & regularly a disappointing experience - dropped calls and not-spots being the norm for 30-40% of the journey time.

Entire commuting routes lack coverage, for parts of the south-east I've been able to drive 10+ miles for the last 20 years without being able to make or sustain a call - let alone high-speed data usage. So this isn't a new problem, or caused by a specific incident.

All I'm looking for right now is basic verbal phone call coverage, high speed data would be nice but get voice working first - please?

2. Updates

Phones nowadays are high powered portable computing devices, running complex software from many sources. We use these for our daily tasks, often sharing our closest details and most intimate data with the device and applications.

Like any modern device, and complex software solution it requires updates - for bug fixes, compatibility & interoperability management, to address the ever increasing cycle of security vulnerabilities. This particularly applies to the operating system and firmware running the device - as this underpins all applications and is shared by everything on the device.

So then why does it take communication companies 18 months plus to allow the software updates for phones to be rolled out and deployed onto devices on their networks?

It's bad enough that the phone networks still insist with polluting the device with their own software application spam and cruft 'customising' the software, but to leave millions of devices with publicly known and documented critical security flaws for months on end appears to be somewhat negligent does it not?

Whilst it will be unpleasant and painful, I'm genuinely looking forward to the first major widespread security issue caused by devices from a network supplier not being able to be updated against long known flaws; specifically the position of accountability taken by the network supplier in the subsequent (and justified IMHO) formal actions taken by customers.


Now, of course network companies will say that both of the above points cost money - and yes I know & agree with that but here's my response...

It's no point pushing lifestyle services, more bandwidth and entertainment services if half of the time the customer isn't even able to use the basics. New investments should be made on solid foundations, piling shiny baubles on-top of sand doesn't made for a sustainable long term business!

Security validation does cost money, but you're not doing that! You're simply verifying that the updated software from the OS/Device supplier still works on your network - that's basic hygiene functionality... The less junk 'customisation' you put on the device the less work to do each time! If it works for & with Apple then why not for the other devices? spending resources addressing the ongoing support of the devices and the safety of your customers is surely a priority, and is a tiny cost compared to the billions you spend on spectrum and core network equipment!

And surely it's better to invest to secure (in every sense) your customers and keep them close, rather than have them source devices direct from the manufacture (hello Google Nexus / Pixel etc) and source their comms from a bulk MNVO and fully distancing and commoditising the network company?

So I'll save the communication companies the cost of a call - fix the above and I've be both loyal and happy, ignore the above and I'll find solutions that work for me not you....

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