This is the reason why.
by Trey Rentz, Wed Dec 08, 2010 at 02:37:32 PM EST
Do you have a Verizon Wireless Phone?
Then you know the reason why we need network neutrality. You couldn't surf the web today. Because we don't actually have network neutrality - on the wireless internet. Unlike Japan, we're crippled here in the states with all kinds of non interoperable applications and standards. And the cellphone companies would tell you otherwise - except when your service crashes for no reason. It crashed today because Verizon Wireless crashed their central tether. If your phone were untethered, it would have worked just fine.
Tethering network applicances is bad karma. It's just not the way the internet is designed to operate.
Network neutrality is a huge, and extremely important issue that now affects every aspect of our lives. And today, we've found a vivid and tangible example of the reason why we have to keep pressing the issue until we have cellphones that use standardized browsers - and we can use the mobile internet in the same way, as the public internet.
When you noticed you couldn't surf the net with cellphone today perhaps you didn't realize that crash is a direct result of them tethering their cellphone application to their own internal infrastructure. The actual network connection was fine. That's what you pay for - and that's what you should get, because you as a taxpayer - licensed the spectrum to them through the FCC. But instead, you get some kind of lame network appliance action on your integrated browser ( you know, the one that seems to always be pulling up Verizon Wireless' website "and partners" ). Are you paying service fees, to be a member of the Verizon Wireless Corporate Intranet?
As background, it's fun to read how Steve Wozniak is tuned into the concept that we need a stable , open and reliable internet - and laments the byproducts of a culture of tethered network appliances.
"(..) .. The biggest obstacle with the growing prevalence of technology is that our personal devices are unreliable. .. Little things that work one day; they don't work the next day," he said enthusiastically, waving his hands. "I think it's much harder today than ever before to basically know that something you have ... is going to work tomorrow."
Verizon, like many other cellphone service providers - are trying to follow an essentially monopolistic approach that AT+T successfully ran for years before MCI forced them to release their stranglehold on endpoint hardware. It's illuminating to look back through magazines in the sixties - the phone equipment you purchased came exclusively from Ma Bell. They argued in the Supreme Court that since they own the network, they have the right to decide what hardware connects to it. It is telling to go back into old magazines and look at AT+T ads. They speak of how "ATT Telephone Technology helps guide Missiles through the Air" ... all brought to you by superior ATT Phone Technology. But in the end, the supreme court ruled in favor of network neutrality and allowed MCI to sell long distance. In the same ruling, it stated that any vendor had a right to manufacture equipment that would connect to ATT's network. And the modern internet was born - it had been around in DARPA form, but with this boost - many companies leapt at the chance to make network equipment that could be connected anywhere. Cisco was one of them. The others are probably connecting you right now as we speak.
But the FCC regulated wireless spectrum, being such a prize to so many cellphone service competitors - is marketed as "sparse" and "we don't have the bandwidth to be able to offer such services without limiting them". In a nod to the ATT model cellphone providers offer you a phone for "free", their way of controlling the hardware that connects to it. As long as you agree to the fine print of a service agreement.
And in that fine print, therein lies the rub. Want to access content? Guess how hard it really is, even when it's working right. Most "applications" or "apps" are in fact centrally hosted products that crash in one place and affect millions. A classic case in point: "directionfinder". Many map and GPS utilities do not allow you to use the integrated GPS in your phone, with maps that you can load. They require you to hit a map off the public internet. So much for geocaching.
Another good example is the centrally hosted and gated internet services that many cellphone providers push. Opera is a good one - does your cell phone company let you install it on your phone? I bet it does. How do you install it? Does flash work on your phone? Crippled web browsers are a way to set up an access gate. It's crashed before. It will crash again. But you paid for your phone, and you paid for the service. You shouldn't have to pay for them to gate your service. Think of how stupid it would be to have all traffic going through one place, just so you could charge someone to come through.
It's pretty easy to see why they're doing it. In fact, its blatant. They want to take a fee for anyone who is a content provider. Want to read MyDD? Pay the cellphone provider ten cents to have a myDD "app". Want to surf somewhere else? Hmm...
I remember once, I tried to hit craigslist off a phone -the crippleware browser that was in the phone could not hit the site because its "root certificate wasn't in the local store". How much memory does a certificate require? About 10k out of my 4G flash memory. This was deliberate, on behalf of the provider (metro PCS).
The internet is broad and redundant. It is a many to many communications medium: open, scaleable, and becoming more and more useful.
To support network neutrality requires a bit of sophistication on your part. You have to know the truth from the lies, and realize how the network both does and doesn't play into the life of a healthy and strong country.
But what you should remember is that when every single phone in America crashes their browser - and you can send and receive email (an open protocol), but not surf the web - it's because they're screwing with the browser.
Imagine how absurd it would be if you went home, and because someone centrally manages your web browser on your computer - you couldn't surf the web because they screwed up one site off the three hundred thousand out there you surf.
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