Carriers should only test connectivity

There’s an article on carrier testing of device firmware upgrades on Vodafone UK’s blog that highlights just how bad the current carrier model is for the consumer and how needlessly involved carriers get.

There’s absolutely no need for them to test anything other than well behaved connectivity on their network, to ensure that the device won’t consume network resources in a way that’s detrimental to the experience of other consumers.

Everything else should be in the hand of the upstream device vendor, and you can argue that even the claim that the device will behave when connected to cellular networks should be handled outside of the carrier.

Every carrier allows carrier-unlocked devices on their network. Devices they’ve never seen, where they have no idea of the state and quality of the software running, from modem firmware to user applications, and where they have absolutely zero control over how the user updates their firmware even if the data to do so travels over their network.

They never sold you the device and they don’t certify a single thing in that situation. They just let you connect and get on with it. Even if they’re selling the device to the end-user — heck, even if they’re adding software to the default firmware — they don’t need to care about testing the core of the upstream firmware updates.

They need to stop wasting time and money, all while customer satisfaction dribbles down the drain, by adding extra time to device firmware releases for any reason other than well behaved cellular connectivity. Vodafone outline a process where they’re involved in testing apps, battery life and music services, among other things.

That’s so very broken, even if they’re providing end-user support for the device. Smaller, more nimble MVNOs have a clear advantage here; they don’t sell phones and so don’t have to get needlessly involved, duplicating testing that already happened upstream.