back to article Why mobile data quality matters

We've been tolerant of mobile operator service problems because our expectations are low; no one expects a voice call made over mobile to be high quality, for example. But if operators plan to be more than just a voice and data provider to businesses, the pressure is on to provide more than just a so-so service. Historically, we …

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Grenade

can we just get rid of mobile internet dongles?

as i've detailed at great length before on here, THEY DON'T WORK. at all.

surely trading standards or the OFT should be investigating this?

personally I think the whole shit idea should be canned until we have the technology and ifrastructure to make it work properly.

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FAIL

Coverage

You've only got to look at a map of coverage in the US to see the root of the problem - mobile networks want customers so they cover:

a. Large population centers where there are lots of people

b. The roads connecting large population centers.

Since they are looking to sign up customers all they have to do is provide a mediocre service that works "most" of the time ... some signal strength is better than none but there's no real pressure to do more than provide "some" signal. This strategy works fine most of the time but you can see it fall apart when large groups of people come together suddenly - sports events or disasters like Katrina where the mobile phone service in Baton Rouge collapsed overnight (and remained down for weeks) when 60,000 people with mobile phones moved into Baton Rouge from New Orleans overnight.

Mobile operators have no incentive to improve a service that generates a large cash flow for a mediocre service. Since mobile phones are rapidly replacing land lines we are - in effect - moving societies ability to communicate in the event of a disaster back to that of the 50's.

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They don't care

Mobile data is a race to the bottom. Cheapest provider wins.. it's much like DSL but at least with that there are business quality providers if you're prepared to pay a bit more. With mobile there's no choice.

I like to do the 'spotify test'. If an (allegedly) 7.2Mbps connection can't reliably stream a 96kbps low quality spotify stream it fails. This isn't a hard test - I'm expecting them to be able to provide a mere 1/75th of their advertised bandwidth.

Where I am (Manchester) the only provider that hasn't consistently failed this test is Vodafone.. coincidentally the most expensive. And they're not exactly stunning either.

Maybe by the time LTE is rolled out 96kbps will be achievable... :p

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The real problem for mobile data quality

Is for the types of business roles that mean you could be any location in the UK at any time. You simply cannot rely on the connection to be available (even for a telephone call never mind data). Given that we have had to work around connectivity problems by transferring data whilst travelling or at a stronger connection location, but trying to hunt for those can be an issue on its own. Is 99% reasonable coverage possible at an acceptable cost to the providers? I don't have that answer, but if there could be a promissory that big clients will pay for the service they want to rely on, then it could be a good thing?

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@Version 1.0. No data problems in the US

Must be looking at Sprint, T-Mobile, or (to a lesser extent) AT&T's map. This is one instance where I must rub it in as a US'ian compared to the "bad or even worse" choice you seem to have in the UK.

Verizon doesn't have blanket coverage -- nobody does -- but it's good. I've gone on several 1000 mile road trips, with high speed data for all but maybe 5 or so miles (going south to New Orleans there was about a 30 mile stretch (in Missouri) where I dropped to 144kbps 1X data, but the other ~900 miles was high speed the entire way.)

If I'm not riding in a car? Forget about it, I will be getting at least 800kbps and have seen over 1.5mbps pretty often. And this is on an older card that is EVDO Rev 0 (2.4mbps peak) instead of Rev A, and that was known for poor RF when it was new. EVDO Rev A has only a peak speed of 3.1mbps, but Verizon says to expect typical speeds of 600kbps-1.4mbps, and I see those speeds even with my older card -- none of this "7.2mbps on paper, but 100kbps in reality" type stuff. I'm VERY VERY surprised if I end up somewhere where my card isn't fast enough to stream videos.

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Big surprise

We saw it with DSL/Cable ISPs, and now the mobile companies are doing the same thing: They sign up more people than can be sustained by their network infrastructure... and instead of being forced to supply what they are supposed to deliver, they now talk of charging structure and having to prioritise traffic.

Bullshit.

Bottom-line, this is equivalent to a shop selling more items than it has in stock while promising you a delivery date it simply cannot achieve for most. And when you complain that your purchases haven't arrived yet, you get told that your purchase has been shunted aside to provide stock for a preferred customer.

We wouldn't take it from a brick-and-mortar shop, why do we accept this attitude from ISPs and TelCos?

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AT&T is terrible around New York state.

I can count on loosing voice calls from home at least once per 15 minutes, unless I go stand in the yard (no, I don't have an iphone).

I just looked it up, and the coverage map shows that we're in the "Best" coverage category.

Honestly, given the poor voice connectivity, why would anybody expect anything better for data?

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Connecting in the first place is slow

I find it slow to connect to a mobile data service. I thought that mobile data was supposed to be an "always on" and "packet based" service.

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