Bill Belichick

Source: Keith Allison, Flickr

With all the hype for the “The Internet of Things” (IoT) and Carrier-class Wifi promising to provide a high-quality user experience for a plethora of connected devices it was a stark reminder of where we really are today seeing the videos and images of the New England Patriots coach slamming a Microsoft Surface tablet on the sideline that went viral after the Patriots and Bills NFL game.

The normally reserved, reticent and press-speaking minimalist Bill Belichick went on a rant for over five minutes over the failure of his tablet to perform during the recent Patriots and Buffalo Bills game.

“As you probably noticed, I’m done with the tablets,” Belichick said. “They’re just too undependable for me. I’m going to stick with pictures, which several of our other coaches do, as well, because there just isn’t enough consistency in the performance of the tablets. I just can’t take it anymore.”

On the Tuesday following Bill’s Sunday comments both Microsoft and the NFL issued damage control statements in response to Belichick’s comments.

“We respect Coach Belichick’s decision, but stand behind the reliability of Surface,” the Microsoft statement read. “We continue to receive positive feedback on having Surface devices on the sidelines from coaches, players and team personnel across the league. In the instances where sideline issues are reported in NFL games, we work closely with the NFL to quickly address and resolve.”

“Since Microsoft has been a partner of the NFL and implemented their technology on our sidelines, the efficiency and speed of communication between coaches has greatly increased,” the NFL league’s statement read. “As with any technology, there are multiple factors that can cause issues within our sideline communications system either related to or outside of Microsoft’s technology. We continue to work with all of our partners to ensure the best systems are in place to give our clubs the greatest chance for success on a weekly basis.”

This sports moment illustrates how consumers demand availability, connectivity, and real-time, high-quality performance from their connected devices and the networks they run on. Was it the MS tablet that failed Bill Belichick or really a poor WiFi connection, failed authorization procedures, IP address translations or another network issue?  Like most consumers Bill doesn’t really care about the root cause, he simply wants his connected devices to work, all of the time!

It’s possible that the WiFi network was the real culprit in the case of sacked tablet. We have all grown to rely on WiFi everywhere and in the name of convenience have also grown to accept its variable and sometimes sketchy service quality. Admittedly, the average consumer does not share Bill Belichick’s zero tolerance for poor performance but we have all experienced such moments of frustrations (though we probably didn’t destroy the device during our frustration). As our dependency on WiFi grows so does the need for carrier class WiFi. Indeed, next-generation voice services like VoWiFi (voice over WiFi) will likely raise the bar for WiFi service as service providers are already promoting such “high-def” voice-quality services.

Having visibility to an increased number and diversity of connected devices is a daunting challenge for service providers but one they must tackle with IoT. Understanding whether it’s the device or the network follows as perception is reality with subscribers who do not possess the intrinsic insight to the respective problems that occur in the network and devices. And finally, getting in front of potential issues by proactively monitoring the network and connected devices allows service providers to address service degradations before they effect user experience, and potentially save the lives of tablets and other connected devices!