Leaking On Your Own Doorstep

There is a turn of phrase that goes (the easily offended should look away now…) don’t sh*t on your own doorstep. I guess it follows that you should not leak on your own doorstep either, if you take my meaning. Yet it turns out that my mobile service provider does just that. A couple of days back, I was waiting on a call from an old colleague and friend. I waited and waited, but there was no call. That day he was in the country to meet with my mobile service provider, who happen to have their headquarters just across the business park from me. I assumed his meetings were overrunning. Then about an hour after I expected his call, my phone suddenly jumped into life. I had three voice messages from my friend. A flurry of text messages also followed. It transpired that he had been repeatedly trying to call me for the last hour, but because of network congestion had been unable to get through. In fact, he said in his message that he knew it was congestion, because he could see that the SMS messages he kept sending were not being received by me. So check this out – I am less than a kilometer from the head office of my mobile network operator, but network congestion means they could not connect the call. Geez. I know the problem is not a coverage blackspot or my handset – I was moving around, outdoors and in, my phone was always reading perfect coverage each time I looked at it, and this has been happening a lot to me recently. Planning for network utilization is one of the harder things to do, but is also one of the more important things to do. If people cannot make calls, you cannot charge for them. If people do not receive calls, they get fed up and churn. Inadequate capacity leads to reduced revenues, simple as that.

However hard it is to plan for capacity, you would think that a network would be aim to have some spare capacity right in the immediate vicinity of their head office. I mean, it must be fair to assume they will have a lot of users of their own network concentrated where their offices are based! What happens when someone goes for a business meeting, perhaps hearing a lot of talk about how great the network is, but then finds the network is overloaded right outside the HQ? Presumably they think like I would – that the quality of the service provided is rubbish. They might even tell their friends and business associates. If they are like me, they blog about it ;) All of which undermines all the carefully crafted adverts and marketing. You have to spend money to make money, you can spend it on promotion, or you can spend it on delivering a better service. One leads to new customers, the other leads to loyal customers. Guess which kinds of customers make telcos the most money? You got it. Loyal customers are a telco’s best asset, especially in saturated markets. Better still, happy loyal customers will recommend the service to their friends and colleagues, and that is the best form of promotion you can get. Poor network service hurts the bottom line three times over: loss of call revenues, loss of revenues due to churn, loss of revenues because customers do not recommend the service. Perhaps my provider loses so much money they have none left to invest in the network, not even when the network is on their own doorstep. Oh well, I guess it is time for me to shop around for a new provider. There must be one out there able to actually supply me with the service I paid for…

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is the Editor of Commsrisk. Look here for more about the history of Commsrisk and the role played by Eric.

Eric is also the Chief Executive of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a global association of professionals working in risk management and business assurance for communications providers.

Previously Eric was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and he has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and other telcos. He was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.