Tag Archive for: mobile

Moving forward at the speed of technology

24 Sep
September 24, 2014

When companies I buy a service from send newsletters out they occasionally have some interesting tidbits and so I saw today’s newsletter from EE telling me that I could now make journeys through public transport in London by paying with my phone. I was a part of the recent TFL trial using contactless payment cards, so this was interesting for me – solving one of the problems I saw with the contactless system (waving your credit card around in public is surely just asking to be mugged).

Screenshot of the EE newsletter detailing the announcement that EE are working with TFL to roll out NFC payments from mobiles across the TFL network.

So I follow the instructions and check the list of handsets supported for NFC payment (EE branded as “Cash on Tap”) – surprisingly my fairly new HTC One M8 isn’t on there – what gives? It’s certainly got NFC capabilities. A quick google shows something interesting – Only recently has the HTC One M7 been added – that handset was released almost 18 months ago. I couldn’t understand what was going on until I spotted the fine print – “These devices have been securely tested by EE and MasterCard®.”

Now, I know what’s involved in protecting credit card transactions and rightly so – fraud is a multi-billion dollar industry funding all manner of criminal enterprises. However, if you’re telling me that EE is taking 18 months to test new handsets (NFC payments have been out on EE for quite some time), then they really need to review the process. Those people with the highest amounts of disposable income are likely to be the same people who renew their handset every 2 years on a new contract, so an 18 month delay in rolling things out to the customers most likely to make use of this isn’t really on.

Sadly, it’s a trend we see across the industry. My inbox is full of promising new technologies (including a fair amount of vapourware) which larger providers are unable or unwilling to roll out to customers rapidly – and this really is where the smaller ITSP can make a difference. By reacting quickly to customer demand and new technology, they can deliver on these new technologies whilst the large Tier 1’s are still scoping out the deployment project. It’s a pattern I see every day and our customers lean on us to bring the experience of rolling these kinds of features out to the table so help them succeed in delivering. Unfortunately, the mobile industry isn’t really geared for small providers so the large carriers end up stifling the very innovation that they need.

What’s the answer? I really don’t know here – a different regulatory framework might work, perhaps one that splits the network from the handset in much the same way as OpenReach provides the network that thousands of smaller ITSPs use. It may be that LTE will enable a better way of working between the network providers and the service providers, allowing service providers to treat the RAN like a simple access network. We may even find one of the MNO’s suddenly gets off their proverbials and starts reacting better to the technology and userabase. I’m not even sure, given the progress of that industry whether anything will change without a regulatory shakeup, but what I do know is that the customer experience is suffering. The current system doesn’t promote innovation – something needs to change.



Staying connected

22 Oct
October 22, 2012

I’m attending BroadSoft Connections this week – a major conference in the world of VoIP. For those who aren’t familiar with the name BroadSoft is one of the world leading companies in the industry and produce a hosted VoIP telephony platform complete with a range of ancillary services and products to provide service providers with a complete ecosystem.

Just because I’m attending a conference doesn’t mean I’m not working this week – there are a whole bunch of things going on back in the office that I need to keep abreast of, not to mention the fact that we’re planning on moving house soon! It’s been a year since the last Connections conference – how have things changed?

This year I’m travelling with four Internet-enabled devices – two smartphones (one work, one personal), a tablet PC and my laptop and – more than ever before – I’m realising that my life is so integrated with the Internet that when I go somewhere where my usage is curtailed, I really struggle. My ticket was booked online; I had an e-boarding pass. My entry into the US was contingent on completing the electronic travel authorisation (ESTA). The hotel booking was completed online and we registered for the conference online. I didn’t check any maps before I left – why bother when I have Google Maps on my phone (I wanted to make sure I arrived at the right place, so Apple Maps was out). All of this was tracked through Tripit – a great application that I use to organise my travel and help keep me up to date with unscheduled changes.

Those are my needs – what’s the reality? As soon as I arrived, both of my phones alerted me to the fact that data whilst roaming was expensive. I hadn’t made any preparations nor was I going to bother buying a local SIM as I have a range of services on my phones that depend on this mobile number – Vodafone are charging £15 for 5Mb of data as a flat rate. Orange texted me and told me they charged £8 per Mb – woah! But they also offered a package where I can turn on a service that, if I use any data, costs £6 per day for up to 30Mb – then we’re back to £8 per Mb after that. However they also provide an app that helps you track your usage and provide warnings. Once connected, the speeds I’m getting here in Phoenix, AZ are pretty impressive – the networks obviously have plenty of capacity.

Wherever possible, I’m using wifi – it was free in the airport and its also complimentary in our hotel, the Hilton-family Hampton Inn and Suites. Here in the venue hotel, the Westin Kierland, the wifi is free for guests but not for conference attendees, and it struggles with some 1,000 people attending this conference.

Either way, I’m pretty impressed – I’m managing to keep myself connected fairly effectively and managing to keep up to date with what’s going on at home, even if that does mean getting woken up at 4am this morning by an urgent phone call! Last year, I struggled a lot more with finding decent data – the conference venue wifi problems appear to be a common theme however, something that hotels like this really should have a better handle on. Maybe next year I’ll check out local SIMs as an option – or maybe by next year I won’t need to…?