Tuesday, November 28, 2006

WIRELESS://Innovation v. net neutrality

Tying together (1) e-mail innovations to (2) wireless innovation in general and (3) net neutrality in the wireless space.
Wireless is about voice and SMS, but BB/internet/TV/etc. could be a nice add-on for those shiny 3G/4G networks. Demand will not be exploding (to say the least), so I believe operators are dumb trying to limit access (thus introducing the net neutrality issue to the wireless space).

Here goes my argument:

1. Berggi (10 $/mo) enables any phone to receive e-mail and IM. Now Presto and HP work to have e-mail and photos delivered to a printer - no need for a PC (also 10 $/mo). Niche apps, but nice.

2. Still, the wireless world shows quite a bit more inclination to innovation than the fixed world:
  • Advertising: opt-in in exchange for lower fees (Vodafone/Yahoo!) or have a free handset and free calls (Blyk; also Google's vision of the future).
  • MVNOs: I haven't given up on them, as long as there is a good deal in place (Nextel/Boost).
  • Homezones (FMS): Vodafone (At Home) and T-Mobile are expanding to many countries.
  • Other tariffing options: Family plans; free on-net calls; buckets; roll-over of unused minutes.
  • Dual-mode handsets and BB (FMC): most action is from Voda and TMO again.
  • Banking/payments: Rabobank is entering (on the Orange NL network). They have a solid reputation in fixed online banking - they may be able to make it work in the wireless space. Cingular has plans for 2007. Also, BouygTel is working with SNCF and RATP for train access in the Paris region.
  • Online access: MNOs are trying to hang on to their walled gardens, but social networking (Vodafone) and video sharing (Verizon/YouTube) are attracting interest. The big test is 3G UK's X-Series; I suppose the tariffing will be OK, but how about the fair use policy?!? If it is set not generously enough, users of the Sling TV service (place-shifted TV) will eat through their limit all too soon. Will Hutch be able to do the rebalancing act?

3. Unfortunately, the latter point introduces the net neutrality issue in the wireless world:

  • Google complains about operators trying to prevent downloads of Google Mobile Maps.
  • Nokia will launch P2P/VoIP blocking software next year.
  • Again, what will be the X-Series details from Hutch?

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