Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Wednesday 04/08/2004 There's an interesting interview on the Web with David Cooper, chief technical officer of 3. He exudes enthusiasm, but glosses over areas where things might not have been as easy as he suggests.

Wednesday 04/08/2004
There's an interesting interview on the Web with David Cooper, chief technical officer of 3. He exudes enthusiasm, but glosses over areas where things might not have been as easy as he suggests. Still, running a technical operation that at one stage was rolling out 500 sites a week -- that's about one every 10 minutes -- is a genuine challenge.

Ah, but how about the question that everyone asks about 3 -- why no data services? Why concentrate on the low-revenue voice tariffs and not the commercial network access market that others are charging so much money for? Back-end infrastructure issues? Compatibility and support worries? Quality of service? Keeping revenue within the managed, charged-for services that are the only things you can access? No, the reason that 3 has avoided data and Internet access is -- journalists.

Yep. It's all our fault. Not only are we guilty of being very negative about 3 to start off with so we can be positive when it all turns out fantastic and thus getting "two stories for the price of one", but we're just out there to complain full stop. 3 cannot guarantee the quality of the stuff you get over the Web, so that would be just one more thing for the hacks to whinge about -- and why give us the ammunition?

This is an intriguing concept. You might think that with journalists spending so much of their time on the Web these days, they'd be able to distinguish between good old ordinary Web unreliability and anything extra the 3 network slips in. You might also think that the positive reception we've given other 3G cards should indicate that we only complain when things don't work. Indeed, most of the complaints we get from readers about reviews is that we've been too positive, giving companies the benefit of the doubt when we should be asking more and accepting fewer excuses. Or there's the old actors' method of coping with bad reviews: ignore them, and concentrate on counting the bums on seats.

But then, customers don't crop up much in Cooper's interview. He defends his fixed-price per-video fee by saying that per-megabyte pricing deals don't work. Customers don't understand them .He doesn't explain why he can't price things up front according to size, or even have a bandwidth meter built into the phone.

Must be those journalists again.

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