The big story in the news today is the uproar over carriers using software embedded within popular smartphones to help them monitor their mobile networks. The key-logging software comes from a company called CarrierIQ and is already preloaded in many of the latest devices on the market today. Data collected from the software is sent to the carriers giving them additional information for tracing performance issues and reducing mean time to repair.
Unfortunately, most people didn’t know that the software is there and that their personal usage data is actively being monitored. The big fear is that other types of user data can be collected from the smartphone in violation of the privacy and trust of the smartphone owner.
Real user passive monitoring has been a best-practice of carriers (operators) for a long time and it’s important that they monitor their systems internally to make sure that the fewest number of subscribers are impacted when outages occur. The problem here is that the passive monitoring of real user traffic has extended beyond the traditional network and into the hands of unsuspecting customers.
According to MSNBC, three of the four top US carriers use CarrierIQ (Verizon being the exception) but they explain the limits of their use:
“The Carrier IQ program is an analytical tool, strictly to "improve wireless network and service performance," not to track users' personal data, said AT&T.
Sprint said in a statement that Carrier IQ software helps "analyze our network performance and identify where we should be improving service…."
T-Mobile, contacted by msnbc.com, said late Thursday it uses Carrier IQ strictly as a "diagnostic tool to troubleshoot device and network performance with the goal of enhancing network reliability and our customers' experience."
The problem is that there’s little trust that someone, somewhere isn’t using this valuable data for their personal benefit.
Looking at what these carriers are trying to accomplish in the statements above, Keynote Systems is proud to say that that our active testing and monitoring solutions are ultimately designed for the same benefit. Our private testing and monitoring networks of smartphones, measurements computers and networks probes provide similar Quality of Service data to carriers around the globe, including the United States.
Because our mobile network monitoring solutions are built, operated and managed by operated by Keynote many headaches are avoided. Private networks of smartphones, computers and probes are placed in strategic locations generating private network traffic. This has helped us become the trusted third party of carriers and operators looking for that extra advantage in improving the end user experience. We don’t replace the need for thorough internal passive monitoring, but we can help carriers keep their subscribers happy while hopefully keeping their names out of the headlines.