I am usually a very grateful user. I don’t complain a lot, have low expectations most of the time and accept the incremental improvements we get year-on-year. However, when it comes to the internet service, I always feel we are far behind from what we can achieve and offer using the technologies we already have. And it is mainly down to how we have been perceiving those services historically and how they evolved, rather than what we, the users, need.
So, I came up with five areas of improvements and initiatives, that I think can transform the internet service as we know it. And I would like to share them with you:
Reasonably priced unlimited data
This is probably the most obvious ingredient of our recipe. And the good news is we are almost there with some limitations, like being regional, MNO exclusive and allergic to roaming. However, soon enough unlimited mobile data will be a global new normal. And hopefully, MVNOs will catch up soon. Roaming, however, that’s another story.
The European roam-like-home did open up unlimited voice and SMS for roaming users (fair usage policy applies). I do wish data could get the same treatment without being throttled to unusable bandwidth. Roaming outside the EU, however, I am not holding my breath.
A single subscription for internet service (Fixed Broadband and Mobile Data)
For this to be realised we need 2 things:
- Internet service providers offering a united internet service (not bundled) – Allowing users will be able to access the service via either home broadband or mobile data seamlessly. This is technically possible from the proposition perspective. However, most – if not all – operators are treating the two services like completely different verticals that they could bundle together. And from the infrastructure side, yes, they are two very different technologies and services, but from the user standpoint, it is now a single utility. For example, as an energy user, it makes no difference to me if my energy provider supplies their energy from solar panels or hydraulic generators. So, why cannot internet connectivity be the same, if it is provided by the same service provider?
- We need to kill the Wi-Fi consumer interface and aim to centralise the device authentication on the service level. Technically, I feel like the Wi-Fi alliance initiative Passpoint (or Hotspot 2.0) is capable to enable a solution, where a user can authenticate their devices with their service provider. Then, their devices are automatically authorised to their fixed broadband without a need to connect to the access point and enter a password.
Multiple devices with secure and easy authentication
More and more people use at least 3 devices to access the internet (e.g. mobile phones, tablets and laptops) as well as IoT devices and wearables. Therefore, having an easy centralised one-time device authentication to the internet service would not only improve the user experience significantly but also revamp and enhance data security.
The key technology for this capability would be the long-awaited superhero, the one and only (drum roll) the eSIM. And to clarify, I mean devices embedded with an eUICC eliminating the need for a physical SIM, rather than a plastic SIM card with eUICC.
The number of eSIM-ready devices is constantly on the rise and, hopefully, one day, every laptop, tablet and phone will be eSIM capable. Together with the Wi-Fi Passpoint solution, this will allow service providers to authenticate user devices in a centralised device management system, which then enables eSIM and Wi-Fi authorisation. Users could also then add/remove devices under their subscription. Utilising NFC could even simplify the process further by identifying the devices to be authenticated via a self-care app.
Guaranteed quality of experience
This is probably the most important aspect. And the hardest to achieve. The time has come for us to acknowledge that the internet connection quality is more than latency and download speed. Consistency and robustness are two critical factors that we need to start measuring proactively. But so far, there is no real metrics that service providers use to measure the quality of experience. 5G has introduced the “QoE” metric to start tackling the problem. But only time will tell if we are moving in the right direction once 5G is fully rolled out.
Optimised energy consumption
Battery lifetime – single charge lifetime – have a subtle yet significant role in how we behave in our day-to-day activities. How frequent have you seen someone leaving a gathering early because their phone is about to die, or how many times did you decide to sit in a café for some coffee only to charge your tablet?
The major energy-consuming component in our devices is the connectivity interfaces. And the higher the data speed, the more power those interfaces will consume. So, optimising their energy consumption has been very difficult. We can see this clearly with 5G and much higher energy consumption rates to achieve the 20 Gbps super speed (in ideal conditions). On the other hand, the recently released Wi-Fi 6 has achieved a great milestone in improving battery life compared to its predecessor technology. I can only wish 6G follows suit.
This is my version of the perfect internet service. And there are probably tens or hundreds of other versions that you can come up with that are far better than the service we are being offered now. I believe we have the right technologies and frameworks to achieve a much higher standard of service. The obstacle, in my opinion, is down to lack of innovation and focusing on short term improvements rather than aspiring to what can be further ahead.
Personally, I like to put my money where my mouth is, and that’s why here at Mobilise we are driven to build the perfect digital platform for service providers. It allows them to continue improving their service and customer experience and create a building foundation for innovation. Think of it like Lego for service providers. Drop us a line if you’d like to learn more.
In the meantime, I will continue reading about 6G development. It seems 6G will be mainly offering higher bandwidth and even lower latency. You will be able to download a Billie Eilish song before she even writes it.