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Friday, June 16, 2006

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

Mobile operators: your strength is connectivity, not content.

And this isn't just a philosophical question, but now proven, quantitative fact. A very clever piece of analysis by mobile testing firm ArgoGroup has demonstrated this in a completely clear & real-world fashion.

Last night, FIFA and Yahoo! managed to beat all the mobile operators in getting SMS alerts out to the end-users who weren't near a TV or radio (ie about 7 people) when Peter Crouch scored against Trinidad & Tobago. FIFA's 2-minute delivery time was half the average speed of the operators. Own goal, or what?

What's the betting that the operators won't have the problem fixed for the England:Sweden march next Tuesday? Or maybe they'll just use their deep-packet inspection boxes to delay all SMSs emanating from Yahoo!'s gateway for 5 minutes, to make their own latency-ridden in-house content teams look good by comparison.

2 comments:

David Siegel said...

How did users of Mobile ESPN fare? ESPN supposedly has direct lines to the back of every scoreboard everywhere, enabling instantaneous update of sports scores as they change.

Anonymous said...

An interesting piece of analysis, although (from the level of detail supplied) it appears more indicative of a failure to understand the variables involved in sending large volume SMS than of how quickly an individual user is likely to receive an alert.

The SMS messages will be sent in a serial manner (maybe from one queue, or maybe a number of parallel queues - different operators, different architectures) and the time taken before a message is sent to an individual phone will be determined by where in the queue that phone number is placed.

The length of the queue will be determined by the popularity of the service. The position in the queue is likely to be determined by the phone number itself(e.g. phone numbers begining 0796x are likely to recive their messages before those starting 0797x). Although some services queue the numbers chronologically, so if the handset had recently signed up for the service, its likely to be the last to receive it.

The primary factor determining overall speed of such a service, is the throttle rate at which messages are allowed to pass into the short message centre for delivery. In general the operators don't give higher message rates to third parties than they do to their own services.

Without knowing the message rates and volumes of users for each service its impossible to draw any concrete conclusions, although its conceivable that Fifa's performance could be down to the service being undersubscribed relative to those of the operators. Hardly a justification for criticising the operators ability in the content field.