Time for some respect for operators

08 Apr 2013

As featured on TM Forum's the Insider blog

So the mobile phone celebrated its 40th birthday this week, big deal. Voice traffic is steadily declining whilst mobile data traffic doubles every year, so what? Social networking is fast becoming part of almost every human’s daily life, ho hum! iOS vs Android, Apple vs Samsung, Google vs Bing, cloud vs in-house, who cares?

Quite frankly, none of this matters without the humble networks that provide the connectivity so that the whole world can function. Maybe it’s time the world celebrated ‘network day,’ thanking all those that provide the oil that lubricates the telecommunications world.

That analogy may not be so far off the mark. Oil may still command the world’s attention in terms of value in keeping things going but we could probably survive without it, just. The same may not be said for a loss of access to the internet, or each other, if all the world’s networks came to a grinding halt.

Think about it. How dependent have you become on your smartphone, tablet and PC connected to the whole internet of things. No more Facebook, no more Google, no online banking, no instant messaging, no eBay, no smart meters, no emergency services, no calls to Mom and dad or the kids, no pizza home deliveries, no Skype, no cable TV, no sports coverage, no adult content, no cloud services, no online books, magazines newspapers, no home office - no nothing!

If you don’t believe me, try for yourself. Switch everything connected to a network to off. Modems, set-top boxes, Wi-Fi, phones – the lot! Now get out a good book (no Kindles now), do some gardening, take a swim, go for a walk, go the newsagents to buy a paper or magazine (if they are still being printed), go for a drive (without using your GPS), do some research using your Encyclopedia Britannica (oh, they don’t print that any more), go to the library (when it’s open), visit the neighbors for a chat and a cup of coffee (long time since you did that) – how long do you think you can really last without access to that surreal digital world you have become addicted to?

There was a time when telecommunications was considered an integral part of national security, now it must be essential because without it we simply could not function. The good thing is that neither could any attacking power! Regardless, it’s time to dispel the myth amongst consumers that CSPs are ruthless, money-hungry, profit-making monsters that prey on their customers and that they are an essential part of their lives.

Who else is willing to make the investment in massive network infrastructure, over-priced spectrum and state-of-the-art business systems to ensure they are billed correctly, cared for when they call, and offered services they might really want?

It’s time for CSPs to fight back at the bad press, those ‘freeloading’ OTT players, governments that suck them almost dry, and those bothersome smartphone makers and app producers that flood their networks with uncontrollable amounts of flotsam and jetsam. Let’s emulate ‘Energy Hour’ where everyone turns off all unnecessary electrical equipment for the sake of the environment. Let’s introduce ‘Connectivity Hour’ where we switch off all networks around the globe for one hour, even one minute, just to prove how critical we are to everyone.

Maybe this will bring us the 'respect' we really deserve as an industry?

This ‘tongue-in-cheek’ Insider’s opinion is written by Tony Poulos and is not necessarily that of the TM Forum.

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