Big Bell Dogma: November 2010

Bonus: Brough Turner shares “My Frustration with US Broadband

As we work to build mobility into every product, service, and process, our greatest inhibitor is the mindset represented by those who defend the tethering of products and processes to specific places. This mindset is fueled by the investments that have been made that establish power in the companies, departments, and individuals that stand in the way of mobilizing our lives and our businesses. These investments are not always in hard assets, but often are investments of time and experience to establish intellectual and relational assets. We should expect our assault on these ways to be defended to the death. Here are recent examples:

3 Responses to “Big Bell Dogma: November 2010”

  1. Hi, Russ!

    Having spent a quarter century in Ma Bell’s employ, and leaving while an engineering manager, one of the things I saw a lot of was pushing customers to fit our offerings instead of making our offerings match the customer’s needs.

    So often it would be a customer coming to us saying “we need a service that will do this for us” and we would answer “we have a service that can do this other thing, maybe you can figure out how to make THAT work.”

    Sadly, as a customer, I see that a lot in today’s wireless carriers. The “Once Size Fits All” mentality that tries to simplify everything into just a few plans, just a few identical offerings only differing in size.

    I saw that in the recent announcement from Sprint where over the next two years they are going to be tearing out their existing iDEN Push-to-Talk “dispatch radio” functionality and trying to replace it with yet another attempt to make it work on CDMA phones in Sprint’s cellular/PCS bands.

    Sprint has tried CDMA PTT features twice (Ready Link and Q-Chat), both of which failed for various reasons. Now they seem intent on “making it simple” by trying a third time, but this time eliminating the “fallback” option of still having a service that actually works for people should CDMA PTT fail yet again.

    Unsurprisingly, since Sprint appears to be focused on getting rid of iDEN (and has not grown it since purchasing Nextel…) over the next two years, some of the folks who are aware of Sprint’s announcement are trying to find ways to save the service that meets their needs, even trying to reach out to other companies that currently have iDEN services to entice them to buy Nextel’s iDEN network from Sprint before Sprint guts it.

    Please see http://community.sprint.com/baw/thread/52723 to get a feel for the Nextel customer’s viewpoint.

    Sadly, it appears that the “Big Bell Dogma” is once again going to fail the customer.

    Take care,
    Tom

  2. Doug Lindsey says:

    One thing is for sure. We Nextel Guys (and Girls) are at Nextel for two reasons, Radio and Rugged phones. I myself have a Blackberry along with my 6 dispatchers and we have 56 drivers using i365s with radio function only. We cross produce from mexico into the united states. Our Shippers in Mexico use Nextel Mexico which is owned by Nii. Right now we can communicate with any of our trucks from the states to anywhere in Mexico in 2 seconds. Which switched to this setup from using Qualcomm in the past. I have thousands in labor and equipment that I will sue to recover if they shut Nextel down. I can still hear Sprints Enterprise rep in my office a year ago selling the Nextel international solution to me. He said “yes sir Nextel will be around forever to many government agencies depend on us Nextel is here to stay.” One thing for sure, Dan Hesse needs to get his head out of his arse and come and talk to real Nextel users instead of kids complaining that they can’t down load a song on his boost iden phone. We don’t care about data we need solid radio and phone communications with occasional email push which works great. Here is your solution Mr Hesse, double the price of the Nextel plans and that will do two things, rid Nextel of the Complainers and make Nextel profitable again where you could actually expand the ptt network for companies like mine who don’t care about the price of critical communications. Its a tax write off for us anyway. Doug

  3. Russ says:

    Doug,

    Thanks for your note as we truly value your feedback. Since we’re still years away from the beginning of the iDEN shutdown, there are many aspects of the transition that aren’t yet defined and we appreciate the input from you and the many other real iDEN customers that we’re actively engaging with every day.

    There are some no-brainers that are already set in stone. You mention that “radio and rugged” are your reasons for having a Nextel device – I am happy to say that we will continue to offer both of these features on CDMA. You will be able to direct connect on a rugged iDEN device today and a rugged CDMA device in the near future.

    In fact, your PTT coverage will expand over a larger CDMA footprint and for those customers that do use or want data, they will enjoy a better mobile Internet experience. There are millions of Nextel customers including those who already carry Blackberry and i365’s who desire a better “data” experience so they can access and use apps over a 3G/4G network. Simply stated, we are delivering what many business customers want.

    In regards to “chirping” your colleagues in Mexico, specific details are far from finalized, but you are likely to continue enjoying that experience over CDMA plus new apps (maybe even PTT specific) that may enhance that way your business gets stuff done.

    In short, we are committed to PTT and the millions of users who depend on it. Stay tuned as each chapter of the PTT story gets better.

    As the strategy guy, though, I have to clear up one point of misinformation that appears to be prevalent. The Nextel management team sought out a merger with Sprint because they saw that the iDEN platform was reaching end of life, lacked a data path forward, and couldn’t reach a competitive cost position. The Nextel management team had already begun working with Qualcomm prior to the merger on plans to migrate PTT capabilities, and eventually all Nextel customers, from iDEN to CDMA. The Nextel management team largely became the management team of the new combined company and continued those plans. The reality is that the Qualcomm technology wasn’t ready and the failure to make that transition and shut down the iDEN network was a big contributor to the Sprint-Nextel merger being one of the worst failed mergers in history. We’ve continued to work with Qualcomm and we believe the technology is finally getting there. The question has never been “will we shut down iDEN?” – every network eventually gets shut down. The question has always been “when is the right time to shut down iDEN and how do we make the transition work for all of our stakeholders, starting with customers?”

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