Open Letter to Mobile Internet Providers; your Internet Pathfinding Logic is broken

I’d like to discuss a little problem I’ve been having for a few years now, and it’s becoming a real pain, because it’s breaking my “mobile” user experience.   In what should be a “seamless” User Experience, I seem to be tripping over the seam between my mobile device’s Mobile Data Plan and any Wi-Fi networks.

Allow me to set the stage: Like a lot of folks, when I’m out and about, I tend to be utilizing my connectivity to the Internet to stuff like streaming music via content providers like Spotify, or watching a movie on the bus with Hulu, or playing a GPS based game like Ingress (Resistance for the win!). These all require a constant Internet connection to function properly.

Enter the Mobile Wireless Carrier: Every Carrier out there wants their individual users to reduce their use of network bandwidth, because that means more users can use the network at any one time.  Accordingly, they want you to keep your Wi-Fi radio on, so that you can always connect to any local Hotspots to offload your bandwidth consumption onto a Wired backbone.  It is specifically during these times where most Mobile Broadband providers seem to be missing the picture:

In this scene, an average User is bouncing from their Data Plan to a local Hotspot, then back to their Data Plan once they leave the Hotspot’s range.  Their Wi-Fi radio is always looking for hotspots, detecting and then attempting to automatically login to them.  This login process is two-fold:

1.) Physical Login to the Wireless SSID (Hotspot name)   -and- 2.) The Internet Access Agreement, which takes the form of a “Terms of Service” agreement that the user must agree to each time they access that Hotspot but prior to being granted access to the Internet.

A lot of Sadly, in most cases, this process is not a seamless one, due to a simple issue: each Hotspot will traditionally have a “Terms of Service” (TOS) Webpage that users must access and accept before they’ll be given access to the Internet.

such that if I’m streaming Spotify and change from one data path to another, the moment my phone logs into a new Hotspot that isn’t providing me with an internet connection (because I haven’t agreed to their TOS), my streaming will suddenly and rudely be cutoff.   And boy, does that suck!

So, whomever out there is in charge of the logic that your Wi-Fi chipset uses to provide seamless service to your users, you need to go back to the drawing board.  This is not a problem specific to just a single Carrier: to the best of my knowledge, all Carriers are experiencing this kind of a problem.

If my phone automatically logs into a Hotspot on it’s own, the Wi-Fi chipset should NOT change the “path-to-the-internet” setting to reflect the utilization of the Wi-Fi radio until AFTER the Wi-Fi connection is confirmed to be intact and working, and not waiting for a TOS webpage to be agreed upon.

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