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  1. Innovatology's Avatar
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    Post Carrier testing... Why?

    Yesterday, CrackBerry Kevin published an article titled "For sanity's sake, this OS rollout fragmentation has to stop" about the way carriers (fail to) push out OS updates over-the-air. It was quite critical of BB and the carriers, and triggered some fairly vigorous responses, with 450+ comments including mine.

    What I don't get is this: when I travel, my phone can connect to any network. It doesn't need to be approved by carrier X with OS version Y. Or I may purchase an unlocked phone somewhere, stick a SIM in and use it on any network (as long as the frequencies match). So why do carriers feel the need/right to test and approve each update? Does my ISP pre-approve my Windows updates? Does my car only run on pre-approved fuel? Does my doctor need to pre-approve my dates in case I need his help later on? Of course not!

    I've heard it said that carrier testing is usually just some random guy standing on a corner yelling "can you hear me now?" into a phone. I very much doubt whether they do any real, technical testing. That's left up to the FCC et al. So what, dear carriers, do you actually test? And why?

    Personally, I don't think they actually test anything. Delaying updates is probably mostly laziness. They may have to do some work to publish an update OTA through their network (which I doubt, as updates are loaded from BB servers). And they may have to tell their call center that there's a new version (which I also doubt, because tech support centers usually haven't got a clue anyway). Oh, they have to add their bloatware of course.

    We all know updates should come direct from BB, that's not the point of this post. I'm wondering what the real reasoning behind this mess is.

    What's your take?
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  2. NtotheK's Avatar
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    Wow don't even know where to start. You must be pretty ignorant to think that they aren't testing or have no need to test. If they are going to be selling millions of phones for their network they are going to want to know the ins and outs especially for trouble shooting. If you use a phone on a network that is not carrier approved or tested good luck getting tech support. You must never read manufacturer instructions and disclaimer and yes certain cars use certain kinds of and grades of fuel!

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    Personally you don't think they test anything. But being that I work for a carrier, I know for a fact that they do. They must. They have to make sure that these releases work over their network.

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  4. Innovatology's Avatar
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    I appreciate that, but carrier testing doesn't catch the bugs. Look at how many problems smartphones (of any brand) have with basic services: reboots, calls terminating, 3G/4G problems, text messages not arriving... These are the issues that carrier testing should catch. Besides, we have GSM/CDMA/etc standards that should ensure compatibility. So I ask again: what are they testing exactly?

    We all know that if we use an phone/OS on a carriers network that they haven't approved, we shouldn't expect tech support from them. But that's a different issue. Once the radio stack has been found to work, there is hardly a technical reason why carriers should withhold OS updates from users, and certainly no reason to demand approval. Any phone can roam to any network, so why this artificial limitation?

    PS: it's not very nice to call people ignorant, even if you disagree with them.
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  5. stitch69's Avatar
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    Carrier testing is important because if my carrier (TSTT - bmobile) decided to release OTA 10.1.0.273, all Z10 users would now be WITHOUT DATA services on their phone, unless connected to WiFi.

    I support carrier testing BUT they shouldn't be lackadaisical & take months to release updates since my carrier has stupid prices for their services that aren't worth the price we pay.
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    AT&T takes so long to put all the limitations on their OS. No Hot Spot w/o charges, no BB Bridge. Junk like that
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    I have always wondered why one can pop in a SIM card and use their device on a network for which its OS has not been specifically tested. I agree. I wondered the same thing about device release cycles. Where we were waiting for the z10 here in the US due to carrier testing and yet one could buy a Canadian carrier z10 and use it here on TMO or AT&T unlocked. Seems the carriers should not allow that.

    I think it boils down not to whether it works but rather who is expected to support the user that has issues. If you are using an unlocked phone and there are issues they can blow you off. Right? Or can they?


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    Does Apple have carrier testing? Don't iSheep get their updates straight from Apple without any carrier nonsense?

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  9. Baked's Avatar
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    It's all about the time it takes for the NSA to try and crack BlackBerry, and they still haven't found a way, and since BlackBerry won't give up info, the U.S is pissed.

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  10. Omnitech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Innovatology View Post
    I appreciate that, but carrier testing doesn't catch the bugs. Look at how many problems smartphones (of any brand) have with basic services: reboots, calls terminating, 3G/4G problems, text messages not arriving... These are the issues that carrier testing should catch. Besides, we have GSM/CDMA/etc standards that should ensure compatibility. So I ask again: what are they testing exactly?

    Carriers and device-makers have a very intertwined relationship where the details of both of their products/services have an immense impact on the perceived market value of both of their products/services. So the carriers (especially in places like the USA, where the unbundled/unlocked device market is virtually insignificant) have a huge vested interest to ensure that they don't sell devices that make their service look bad. And since in such an environment the device vendor's real customer is the carrier (not the end-user), they need to placate the carriers or else they won't sell any products.


    Quote Originally Posted by Innovatology View Post
    Once the radio stack has been found to work, there is hardly a technical reason why carriers should withhold OS updates from users...

    There's more to it than the radio stack. Lots more.

    That said, you can't expect the carriers to do the device vendor's job for them re: overall product quality either. Just like I don't expect Blackberry to hire hundreds of people to run around the USA checking AT&T's signal coverage for them, or monitoring AT&T's call center employees to judge their customer service quality.


    Quote Originally Posted by sclift View Post
    Does Apple have carrier testing? Don't iSheep get their updates straight from Apple without any carrier nonsense?

    From one of my comments on Simon Sage's Crackberry Blog Post from today:



    This has been debated endlessly, there are tons of threads in the forums dedicated to it.

    My personal opinion based on what I hear versus some educated guesses.

    A) Apple drove a hard bargain with carriers at the initial launch of the iPhone when they were in a unique negotiating position for various reasons (including the state of the entire marketplace at that time) that no other company since can replicate. (That negotiating position also allowed them to extract subsidy deals with the carriers that have been notoriously costly to carriers. This is one of the reasons why companies like Verizon are always looking for alternatives, because it costs them more money to sell an iPhone than it does most competitor's products.)

    B) Apple reputedly maintains a full-fledged carrier-level RF testing laboratory in-house, which makes it easier to do standard test batteries on their devices and software releases BEFORE they submit them to whoever needs to approve them. This probably is of particular value to smaller carriers who most likely outsource that sort of testing to 3rd parties anyway, and who generally release more or less "generic" builds of device firmware too.
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    I posted this comment on Simon's blog post today, gives a little insight on how carriers state and how Apple is different.

    I worked as a device tester for AT&T, the test plan [for Apple] is smaller and different than the one for HTC, BB, Samsung, Moto, etc. For instance, I received every test device that AT&T was testing at the team whether I was working on the device test or not, but only certain engineers got the iphone to test. Much smaller scope. It could have changed since I left, but I doubt it's changed much. This is why you see so many MRs for iOS after the OS is released.

    Apple had plenty of leverage in the market when they launched the iphone exclusively with AT&T in 2007. That leverage and contractual agreement has not changed. All manufactures go through the same testing regiment as BB except Apple. That's just how it is, unfortunately...
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    Carrier testing = how much bloatware can they cram in there before the OS crashes


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  13. Innovatology's Avatar
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    It still leaves four groups of users in limbo:


    • users who purchased a phone that their particular carrier does not sell, for instance at an airport, online or second-hand;
    • users who have moved from one carrier to another but retained their phone, which the new carrier does not sell;
    • users on carriers that only update their current range of phones;
    • developers who obtained their device direct from BlackBerry;


    Note that for BB10's a carrier may sell a different model of that phone (e.g. STL100-2), and thus only update that model.

    Percentage-wise it may not be a huge group, but with 49 million BB devices shipped in 2012, even 1% is 490.000 users. That's a lot of users to ignore.

    Bottom line is: it's a BlackBerry, and it may not have been purchased from a carrier. So BlackBerry should make sure we can stay up-to-date somehow.
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  14. Innovatology's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Omnitech View Post
    So the carriers (especially in places like the USA, where the unbundled/unlocked device market is virtually insignificant) have a huge vested interest to ensure that they don't sell devices that make their service look bad. And since in such an environment the device vendor's real customer is the carrier (not the end-user), they need to placate the carriers or else they won't sell any products.
    That's not my point. I understand that carriers would like to test an update before they push it out to customers who purchased their phone from them. They need to be able to offer support to those customers. But it's an organizational issue internal to that carrier, not a technical requirement. A GSM phone works on any GSM network, as long as the frequencies match. Carriers should allow users to keep their phone up-to-date, especially if they didn't buy their phone from them.
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    I also wonder about that. I understand that carriers need to ensure everything is fine, but really, it's not like the base OS is an unusable piece of bleep, you know?

    You can probably go to India and inject their SIM and enjoy your smartphone like usual, or Germany or Netherlands.

    The base OS simply works, otherwise every carrier will have to build an OS from scratch, and that's impossible. If they modify the OS to suit their network, then switching SIM card should not even be possible.

    So I feel that carrier testing is "largely" not needed. They simply want to put bloatware and stuff in them.

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  16. Omnitech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Innovatology View Post
    That's not my point. I understand that carriers would like to test an update before they push it out to customers who purchased their phone from them. They need to be able to offer support to those customers. But it's an organizational issue internal to that carrier, not a technical requirement. A GSM phone works on any GSM network, as long as the frequencies match. Carriers should allow users to keep their phone up-to-date, especially if they didn't buy their phone from them.

    Like I told you before, in places like the USA the unlocked device market is miniscule. So it's really not a factor here.

    Other places in the world, the business model is different. This is why in India a Z10 is something like $800, and monthly service is $5 or something like that.

    Since the software updates are controlled on the BB10 devices by which SIM is inserted, people that don't like the software release their default carrier is pushing just get a SIM for a different carrier and install it - presto, they get pushed the software release that that carrier is supporting.,
  17. Omnitech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raestloz View Post
    I also wonder about that. I understand that carriers need to ensure everything is fine, but really, it's not like the base OS is an unusable piece of bleep, you know?

    Sometimes the base OS IS an unusable piece of bleep.

    Carriers don't want to encourage customers to use garbage devices on their network and then turn around and blame them when the performance stinks.


    Quote Originally Posted by Raestloz View Post
    So I feel that carrier testing is "largely" not needed. They simply want to put bloatware and stuff in them.

    That's only one aspect of many. What they primarily want to do is make sure that customers get a decent experience on their network, and don't overload all their customer service staff with complaints and problems that all revolve around either a lousy device or a poorly-integrated device on their network.

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