Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Mobile broadband performance well short of the needs of the Salesforce

Most sales professionals today require mobile access to the Internet in their work when they are 'out and about'.
Many use WiFi spots and those who are predominantly field based may use a dongle.
Coverage for the UK is rather patchy. ( see Hot spots -dark red and NOT spots -pale pink ! on map)

They may need it to file reports for CRM systems for their management. With more CRM systems that are on the ‘cloud’ like Buddy , and Goto Meeting and webex conferencing systems and the like good performance is important.

They may need to research the Internet on the move for updates on customer news, competition, stock availability, exchange rates and a host of other applications.

So the recent survey by Ofcom/Epitiro is of particular interest to salespeople who use the Internet on the move.

Ofcom’s report did not cover smart phones but dongles and data cards still represent relevant sector for the Sales world.

Sales people need a mobile Internet service which is
easy to access,
and good value.

Headline speeds are certainly not the whole story but the Ofcom report does reveal some staggering shortcomings.

Consumer research showed that 17% of UK homes are now using mobile broadband to access the Internet.

Of these, 7% use it as their only means of getting online - a 4% rise since 2009
Most field sales people now work from home and could well choose to use their dongle and data card as their business service.

The research which was carried out between September and December last year found the average download speed achieved by consumers was 1.5 Mbit per second. The average download time for a web page was 8.5 seconds.

Download speeds however improved in areas better serviced by 3G, increasing to 2.1 Mbits per second in non peak times when average web page download times were 2.2 seconds.

These results compare with average fixed line speeds of 6.2 Mbits per second and average web page download times of 0.5 seconds.

Latency is calculated by the time it takes for a data packet to travel from a user's PC to a third-party server and back again.

Some service suppliers ( who measured up poorly in the Ofcom study) have said it is unfair to compare mobile with fixed line but for sales people working out and about waiting to get back to their home/office to get a decent service is a hassle and poor use of their time.

Most buyers who are dealing with salespeople are working on fixed line broadband so salespeople out in the field are at a performance disadvantage to their procurement opposite numbers if they are depending on mobile Internet via a dongle or smart card.

Similarly Sales management based on fixed line broadband have superior Internet performance and may forget their team out in the field are not able to use equivalent
O2 has come out well on this current survey. The suppliers who have not done so well have either declined to comment, criticised the report to be six months old ( of course all Government statistics end to lag a little behind the market but the quality of their statistic is usually good)
As a consumer I am glad Ofcom does some work to help me in my decisions .

As with most things computer related individual experience is often far away from manufacturer and supplier claims. The claims usually are expressed as up to X rather than any guaranteed minimum of performance.

On the whole, urban areas performed better than rural areas due to better 3G availability.
The report noted that coverage in cities was highly variable "with no guarantee of good performance" in city centre locations.
My personal recent experience of using a dongle in central London (which has surprisingly 'flakey' reception) ended with communication with a 'helpdesk' of customer and technical service people seriously suggesting I try moving my laptop nearer to the window of the office I was trying get service from. I have switched providers.
Ofcom chief executive, Ed Richards said: "This (ofcom) research gives consumers a clearer picture of the performance of mobile broadband dongle and datacards as consumers use these services to complement fixed-line services or sometimes as their principal means of accessing online services."

Well perhaps Ofcom …… but when I asked my local mobile shop

a. for a particular mobile Internet service which could guarantee coverage performance in a specific location of client's postcode, I got the usual spiel of % coverage.
b. when I asked for the minimum speed he could guarantee , he could only give me maximum speed performance data of up to mbits per second data
c. when I asked for a straightforward good value proposition- Well I got the usual confusing patchwork quilt of tariffs and contracts which make the current UK Mainline Rail ticket pricing policy look utterly straightforward! As ever caveat emptor!

No comments:

Post a Comment