AT&T are using a home-grown tracking system that monitors Twitter complaints about signal failure and can compare tweets to network logs and other customer service reports. The tool, according to Technology Review, first collates any AT&T-related tweets and then pulls out those network-related by spotting keywords like "call dropped" and "3G". By looking at the timestamp and - if present - location data, AT&T can then quickly identify problem hotspots and priortize fixes.
According to AT&T's stats, it's working, too. Not only is the system identifying some problem areas which are never reported to customer services, it's beating normal reports of problems by on average 20 minutes. Most calls, the carrier says, are only for serious issues with the network, with subscribers turning to Twitter for their more casual grumbles.
The carrier is now working on improving its text analysis systems, though it claims to be around 90-percent accurate in identifying genuine complaints as it stands, together with "working on how we can operationalize this research so that it can be used by our network managers alongside our existing monitoring tools" according to AT&T Labs executive director Jennifer Yates. "I hope [subscribers] would be pleased we are taking an interest" Yates says.