Verizon's launching a new application store to compete with Apple, but despite a lot of talk about openness at this week's developer conference
, it's not clear that Verizon's traditionally anti-competitive mindset has changed. It seems like only yesterday
we were noting how the technology press has done a poor job holding the company's feet to the fire for failed promises, so this morning it's quite interesting to see a Venturebeat article
that acts like an objective Q&A, but is "sponsored by Verizon."
In it, the website lobs a few softball questions at the carrier about how exciting Verizon's new initiative is, though even that can't contain some of the less "open" aspects of Verizon's not-so-open mobile network plans. Even though it's a bit of a fluff piece, Verizon's Brian Higgins still casually mentions that Verizon will be banning any applications that actually use bandwidth.
We know how much data costs us per megabyte. We need to take a look at each of these applications, case by case, to make sure that we’ve got applications which are completely upside-down relative to what we will be charging to consumers. Moving over to LTE, you will always have the same sort of sensitivities.
Higgins claims that once LTE arrives, more video-centric applications will be allowed through Verizon screening process. Of course real LTE deployment is years away, and whether Verizon really loosens the restrictions when it arrives is anybody's guess. Verizon already imposes a 5GB monthly consumption cap (with steep overages) on network use -- and it's unlikely that
will disappear with added bandwidth. Historically, once in place, profitable restrictions usually stay in place because they're as much about control
as they are network capacity.
Sure, Verizon has the right to prevent its network from harm. The problem has been that network congestion is used time and time again
by carriers to justify anti-competitive behavior
, and given that nobody has access to raw network data, confirming these claims with any carrier is impossible. As such, a carrier like AT&T can cripple
applications that threaten voice or SMS revenues under the guise of protecting the network, without a shred of evidence. Not that the press would ask. Particularly if you're cozy with Verizon.
No matter what rhetoric seeps out of this week's developer's conference and the seemingly sleepwalking thousands who are covering it for blogs and technology websites, having Ma Bell's remnants as gatekeepers to the future of high-bandwidth applications will never
really lend itself to a truly open mobile web. Whether it's AT&T or Verizon, decisions are going to be made constantly that sacrifice innovation and usefulness in order to protect the incumbent operator's bottom line. This post was not sponsored by Verizon.