Saturday, 1 March 2014

The 30 second Hotspot rule and why it’s sorely needed

I’d like to propose a new rule for hotspots. The rule is simple: If my phone identifies The Cloud or BT Openzone, I want it to check that I’m staying in that location for more than 30 seconds before attempting to login, fail to validate automatically and then leave me ‘connected’ without an internet connection.
All too often now I’m getting routinely frustrated wondering why my phone’s internet connection has stopped working. When you’re obsessively using Whatsapp or similar, you notice an interruption immediately. Clicking into the WiFi settings, I then discover that as I’m walking past the local pub in Hook, my phone has decided to join “The Cloud”.
Great. But not really. Because in the time it’s taken for me to walk by the pub, the signal has become strong, middling then weak. And now I need to wait another 45-60 seconds — and walk faster — for the phone to correct itself, drop that WiFi signal and revert back to cellular.
When you’re in the middle of trying to get-shit-done, this is perhaps one of the most annoying experiences. It’s not just iPhone; I suffer routinely on Android too.
The fundamental problem is that these hotspots want you to login. Or at least visit a webpage and click. They don’t force a pop-up though. Or perhaps, more accurately, they’re generally incapable of doing so until you visit a web browser.
Surely it’s time we had a bit of logic added into the phone that will prevent this mind-numbing occurrence?
Years ago, it was simply amazing when it automatically found my home WiFi signal… when I got home. In those days you actually had to manually instruct your Nokia to change the data bearer. Oh, those were the days.
Now, though, I am routinely getting right browned off*
. Perhaps the worst is when I’m on the train and traveling slowly. All of a sudden my Whatsapp disconnects or my email starts generating errors when my phone latches on to “The Cloud” care of some passing pub in the distance.
I have arsed about installing certificates and whatnot so that it can get a connection right-away without me having to do anything. I think BTWifi works seamlessly. But inevitably if there’s a BTWifi around, there’s usually a BTWifi-by-Fon (or whatever it’s called). Which my phone seems to want to prefer, all the flipping time. That needs the user to do something to activate it.
Seriously annoying.
Isn’t it possible to construct some logic, dear Mobile Industry, that says if my phone is moving a lot or if I’m clearly walking past
the hotspot then joining it would be unhelpful?
The next problem with these hotspots is that I am actually finding them far, far slower than 4G. So actually I’d much prefer to prioritise 4G on my device ahead of WiFi. This can’t be that difficult to actually fix. I’m sure those network wizards at Amdocs have probably already got a solution.
You can obviously just switch WiFi off. That fixes everything.
I’m annoyed that this seems to be the only universal fix. Indeed I am often now finding that in London (where there is more or less ubiquitous 4G) I just keep my WiFi off.
Am I missing something? And are you having the same annoyances? Or is it just me?
* Edmund Blackadder, points if you can remember the name of the episode without Googling.

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