Innovation inspires empowering broadband app

Broadband appBT has developed a new app that empowers people to resolve their own broadband issues at home. The app was devised when someone within the company posed the question, ‘what do you do if your broadband connection goes down?’

Currently, people would usually contact their broadband provider. But it’s a little-known fact that nine out of ten calls to a broadband provider have nothing to do with the broadband network. Instead, most of the problems lie with the set-up – such as wi-fi or wiring – in people’s homes.

Peter Hanlon from BT’s Innovate & Design (BTID) Wholesale Service Design team led the team of experts to devise the app.

“There seems to be an app for everything these days,” said Peter. “I was chatting with some of the team and we decided we wanted to allow people to manage problems with their broadband line set-up and fix issues remotely.”

Innovation takes imagination

The result is an app called BT Wholesale Broadband Checker, which can be used on both Android and iPhone. In short, it’s a free app that can carry out a number of tasks to diagnose issues related to someone’s broadband connection.

“For instance, we have a test that can say whether you have a connection or not and notify of speed or stability issues. The app can use a 3G connection or someone else’s wi-fi to obtain service information to help people diagnose the issue. Bundled in the app is also a test for wi-fi signal strength plus a wi-fi channel check,” said Peter.

But this app isn’t just about fault detection. It can also be used to optimise someone’s wi-fi network at home.

“These tools allow you to go from room-to-room to work out where the signal is best. This might prompt you to move your broadband router and to maximise coverage in the home,” he said.

But the app isn’t just a diagnostic and optimisation tool. It also includes ‘how to’ videos to show people how to do things such as change the channel of their wi-fi. It also provides hints and tips to improve the quality of their broadband connection. Plus, BT is able to send details of major outages or planned engineer work direct to the app to keep people fully aware of what’s going on.

So what makes BT Wholesale Broadband Checker such an innovative app?

“That’s a really interesting question,” said Peter. “There are already apps out there that allow you to carry out speed checks. There are also apps that can monitor the strength of wi-fi connections. There are also plenty of ‘how to‘ videos around.

Innovative thinking

“But to my knowledge, there is no single one-stop-shop app that allows people to do everything and interact with their broadband provider. That’s where the innovation lies. It’s not always about innovative technology. Some times it’s about innovative thinking” he said.

BT Wholesale Broadband Checker was unveiled in April 2012 and already a number of BT Wholesale customers are promoting and trialling the app. Other communication providers are working on their own version of the app with even more content and functions. What started as a simple question has become an app that can be used by millions of people to improve their broadband experience.