My dad is bigger than your dad

When it comes to the bragging rights—or at least perceived bragging rights—of large data companies, they are matched only by quintessential 10-year-olds on the school playground with stories of how big their fathers are. In short, the rhetoric is high but the facts are questionable.

Currently, the boasting about speed comes from several of the largest mobile phone providers in the country—they will remain nameless to protect the guilty. In this case, the two telecom giants are battling over the so-called facts of which one is the fastest, best, baddest dad in the playground. The challenge however is that the National Advertising Division, a telecom industry watchdog group, had approved the use of crowd sourced data for measuring performance. But then, how reliable is the data to begin with if it has been crowd sourced?

At the end of the day though, which company is the fastest can change overnight, but does it matter? The greater question here is: How do these companies ensure they future proof their networks to adapt to the changing needs (and by needs, I mean wants) of their customers?

The demands on networks in our now very real data-driven world are strained, to say the least. With everything accessible—blurring the ever-illusive work-life-balance—the connectivity demands by the average individual is growing daily. For instance, let’s break this down into consumable chunks.

First, voice data—an easy one to calculate given that the term “mobile phone provider” consists of the word “phone,” although millennials will argue that one. Then of course there is text messaging, photos, social media, music, and so on—all basic functions of the typical mobile device.

But the list doesn’t end there by a long shot. If we simply skip to the browser function of the typical mobile device, we now need to calculate web browsing in multiple categories. First comes the data consumed by viewing general websites. Whether it’s images or video, websites are growing due to the need to keep up with resolution on new devices. This means that the vicious cycle between web and device resolution impacts ISPs and carriers in a substantial way.

Then there’s the other side of browsers: connecting to the corporate network. This side of the coin now doubles the data flow by accessing corporate files, apps, and more. And speaking of apps, there are also the apps that get downloaded to a phone. Whether it’s a corporate app, banking, productivity, or Tinder (the last two being one and the same for many), they can be constantly syncing across the network … again, needing data.

And finally, I could get into the laundry list of data required on Wi-Fi and mobile networks accessed through laptops, tablets, and more—but I think we all get the idea.

Therefore, I ask again: Does the speed of a network today really matter? Because that network is already out of date no matter how fast it is. The question that needs to be answered is more along the lines of who has the fastest network for what’s coming. Trust me, I know that all too well as it’s what we spend our days doing … and our nights … and our weekends … okay, now I’m depressed, but I digress.

So, as we all check our phones to read email, finish a project, or swipe right, remember this: No one cares how big your dad is, but let’s hope he’s hitting the gym and a bottle of steroids because there’s a much bigger fight about to happen.