Thursday, July 12, 2007

Net Neutrality

One of the wonderful surprises of the Mac has been the ease of use of my Sprint Upstage phone as a EVDO modem. I can't say how amazing it is to pull out the laptop, connect to the phone wirelessly and be online anywhere with some screaming connectivity.

Over the last two weeks while using this I have had some intermittent connection problems. I would connect, and then disconnect. This kept happening to me so I started turning off applications like Adium and Skype. Through a process of elimination I realized that if Skype was up, the connection disconnected. That of course led to the aha moment that Sprint is blocking Skype traffic through whatever port they happen to use. As someone who works with carriers this isn't news to me so I turn Skype off and away I go.

I had originally planned to post this observation around a post that highlighted the fact that the wireless networks are closed networks and not the Internet and that they had to bid on spectrum, put up towers etc.

Since then the new FCC guidelines around the 700 mhz spectrum auctions were announced with a lot of flaming back and forth about whether or not this was a gift to Google and a shot at carriers and how carriers are stifling innovation etc. As a reader of tech blogs the blogosphere was heavily in favor of this and in general was pretty unkind to the carriers. I didn't spend too much time thinking about it as in general I find that the biggest critics are people who either have difficulty working with the carriers or who think everything should be free, Internet, music etc.

Before I boarded the plane to San Diego I picked up the WSJ and read a couple of interesting articles about the spectrum auction. There was a strong argument made that this move was an attempt to change the nature of the auctions to the advantage of tech companies. I know that the truth lies in the middle somewhere but as a free market person, I think that the journal made much stronger arguments than what I read online. It will be interesting to see where it all shakes out. If you have any interest in the topic I would try to check out pieces from both sides as there is a lot of merit in both arguments.

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