Does telecoms need a new Network Quality Foundation?

Solving a problem as systemic as interoperable network quality needs supporting institutions. Do we need to invest in a new one to make real progress?

I have been pondering for a while how to resolve a basic problem that faces the communications and computing industry: how to solve an issue as systemic as interoperable network quality? Potential adoptees want social proof of the commercial value, but that inspires a chicken-and-egg problem. We somehow need to instantiate a new “quality first” paradigm in a “quantity first” industry.

At the moment we have two “banks” on opposite sides of the “River Telco”:

  • An incumbent set of vendors and industry associations selling network monitoring, analytics, optimisation, and more. These are seeking to adopt more quality science into their products.
  • A novel set of science ideas and technologies that enable the precision control of quality in digital supply chains. These breakthroughs are seeking a product home and initial market applications.

This isn’t an abstract issue. Technologies like 5G “slicing” aren’t going very far unless we solve fine-grained quality “dicing”. Slices with unpolished “ragged” edges aren’t much use to anyone. The same problem plays out over and over in different technical domains and telco markets. Everyone is looking for a local optimum, yet few see the global picture and underlying problem.

I would like to float an idea here. Consider it a provocation, not a proposal. Do we need an industry institutional response, sponsored by key stakeholders? Is a “mid-river” Network Quality Foundation needed to bring forward a better future more quickly? Who might be involved and how might it work?

I have captured the essence below. Do feel free to hit “reply” to offer your thoughts and concrete proposals.

Our purpose

The Network Quality Foundation exists to help industry meet the public demand for engineered user experiences in digital supply chains. We accelerate the commercial availability and adoption of network supply with strongly managed and interoperable quality.

We support the development and dissemination of the tools, techniques and science that enable this outcome. We share the costs, risks and learning benefits of improved methods of performance measurement, modelling and management.

This is not a traditional industry association dedicated to PR and representative activities to government. Others already perform that function very well. Nor are we a standards body, since we do not seek to compete with incumbent and established players.

What we are about is action learning, and our impact is measured by growth in awareness and practical use of the technologies and methods we promote.


Our members are digital supply chain industry pioneers and every member is an active practitioner. We are drawn from network service quality management, customer experience management, network operations, application development, testing and measurement, quality control, network peering, or equipment design.

Scope of activities

Our activities are located in the practical reality of delivering commercial cloud and network access and interconnect solutions. We bridge the “state of the possible” ideal with the “state of the art” of deployment.

We identify the capabilities from leading-edge research that have reached the maturity level where they are ready for development and productisation. We actively promote their adoption in the research, product development and network operations communities.

We develop technical exemplars of the “ideal” state, build roadmaps of how to get there, and develop the (human and business process) management systems and methods to get there.

First year planned programme of work

The foundation will engage in the following activities:

  • Offer free public access to the core science with supporting collateral
  • Create high-quality and free curricula and training material on tools and techniques
  • Run training events in the science, engineering and tools use
  • Help the research community to adopt new science and develop new solutions
  • Facilitate online forums and discussion among members
  • Identify key breakthrough technologies and techniques ready for wider adoption
  • Run workshops for expert practitioners to share learning and develop their professional network
  • Operate demo and lab measurement systems that allow people to trial new techniques without having to acquire budget or overcome approval processes
  • Develop calibration, coordination and control methods and standards in collaboration with relevant industry bodies
  • Distribute demonstration measurement software at industry events

Long-term vision

It is helpful to start with the end in mind, and the vision of the Network Quality Foundation is to be a custodian of the key enablers of rapid industry growth. This includes open source software, and intellectual property licensed on a FRAND basis.

There is a need for testing, inspection and certification of quality in digital supply chains and we will work with established players to help them “upgrade” their capabilities to the latest science and most advanced practical techniques.

Commercial form

For its initial launch the Foundation will be managed and operated by Martin Geddes Consulting Ltd. At a suitable time, it may be appropriate to convert to a Community Interest Company incorporated under English law.

Benefits of membership

We offer you the following benefits by being a member:

  • Capability development that is unavailable elsewhere
  • Safe experimental space without provoking organisational antibodies to new ideas
  • Insight not otherwise available, including access to leading scientists and brain trust
  • Professional development by learning from your peers
  • Brand awareness by associating with a highly visible and valuable initiative
  • Market visibility by getting your services presented to the community of interest
  • Public platform to engage other stakeholders who care about digital experiences

Our credibility

The initiative is led by Martin Geddes, who has a degree in Mathematics & Computation from the University of Oxford, has worked for Sprint and BT in senior roles, and is a well-known industry figure and expert in network quality. Operational industry testbeds and measurement tools are supplied by Just Right Networks Ltd. The underlying science and technology was first developed by Predictable Network Solutions Ltd, who have many “world firsts” in this field to their credit


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