T-Mobile has a massive outage and the FCC wants to investigate.
Political pandering has gone completely out of control with Ajit Pai the Chairman of the FCC says he is going to “launch an investigation”. Really? What a waste of money. T-mobile will have to answer to its customers or they will go to another carrier, why does the FCC need to spend our tax money to “investigate”?
Now coming from a “tech guy” who lives and dies by the money I make taking phone calls, and a T-mobile customer, you would think I would be on board with Chairman Pai. Once I realized I was unreachable for over four hours on a day I was working, meaning my phone was on, I did have a moment of weakness. I did mutter to my wife that I might go back to Verizon, my previous carrier and a former long term client.
If I can’t answer my phone I don’t get paid and could lose a lot of money. If anyone should be angry with T-Mobile it should be me. The FCC chair should be more worried about the untested hazards of 5G. Maybe they should put an antenna on his house first. But I digress…
I understand T-Mobiles situation. In another lifetime, a major bank called me on a Saturday morning. Remote access to their network had stopped. The overall network design was very solid, and suddenly the big wigs could not read the data from home. At that time I was one of the best network engineers in the country and they called. They had no idea they were my bank too. Back then, no one called me then unless it was big because I was charging like a bull that just finished law school.
Most big data driven companies have a distributed system of computers around the country in unmarked warehouses. This bank was no exception. Some even put fake names on the door to keep people away. It turned out the secret data center that controlled the entire network was less than an hour from my house. I had no idea, but they were not a client. Their network vendor referred me. After chocking down my price, they signed the contract and faxed it back. I got dressed and headed over to the address they gave me.
Since it was a Saturday I was billing them for a full day at twice my normal rate. While I was really good at the job, like Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting, I hated watching other people F**k it up. I charged a ton so I would not have to put up with stuff like an investigation if the network goes down.
When I arrived there was a circus of the banks best computer, networking and electrical engineers. I listened for 30 minutes to all of their thoughts and ideas. Then I asked for the change logs. They were completely confused and printed me a copy. I asked what time the first report of failure was. The head lady told me 4:13 am. I looked at the change logs and at 3:21 am a filter was changed in the network protocol.
I said “Did anyone change this filter back?” For 20 more minutes they argued about how the filter could not possibly have caused the issue. Finally they agreed the try my idea and boom. The network was back up.
Technology, especially in the cellular world changes every minute. to expect 100% reliability is ludicrous. We didn’t have 100% reliability when we had land lines.
How many times have you been trying to use some piece of technology or some tech gadget and it just didn’t work, and then a reboot fixed it? Imagine a cellular network that needs a reboot because someone started an upgrade at one end that didn’t work right. Like I said at the beginning “S**t happens”.
As cellular companies add services, merge and get bigger, the risks of a major outage get bigger. Maybe the FCC Chairman should have considered that before allowing Sprint and T-Mobile to merge? Maybe Mr. Ajit Pai should look in the mirror and accept that he might be where the buck stops? Clearly his strategy is to deflect by investigation. Typical politician, so why am I surprised?
When things go wrong we sometimes become myopic and can’t see past the problem, no matter how simple the solution. We are human and that is what makes the journey through life challenging. If everything were perfect we would all be bored and have nothing to talk about. T-Mobile had a major outage, we all know it. Someone there knows why. They can learn from it or fire people for it.
Maybe someone will learn from this, the question is who.
Scott Bourquin is the Host of COOLTOYS® TV, a serial entrepreneur who isn’t a fan of judgement by social media and the author of the upcoming book “The Easy Guide To Office Networking”. You can follow him @scottbourquin.