Let's get one thing clear: we're fond of this CTIA Wireless conference we're headed to. Fond because it's a hotspot of Mobile gadgetry and, just as importantly, a hotbed of people who think clearly and deeply about what mobile gadgetry can do for our lives. It's all sponsored by, naturally, the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, which is essentially a trade group representing all the heavy hitters in the mobile world.
There's a rub there, though, and it's not that we're filthy Communists who hate all corporations. We just have a love/hate with certain corporations because they so often limit the way we can (and should) use our mobile devices. The term here is “Walled Garden” and we've been railing against them basically since WMExperts has been founded. CTIA does bequeath a great conference unto us and does manage to do some lobbying for good for the companies that they represent -- but they also do lobbying for evil.
Evil you say? Then why truck with evil? Answers to both questions after the break.
Bad CTIA, Bad
- CTIA doesn't think that the “Carterfone rules” should apply to wireless networks. These are the rules that state that any phone that doesn't break the network should be allowed, see our post about Skype's thoughts on this as well.
- They are against net neutrality because they believe it's their job to protect us from pornography and spam (and hey, as long as they're filtering, they may as well “protect” us from competitors, right?), besides, it's “highly unlikely” carriers would abuse such power.
- They claim that the wireless industry in the US is all wine and roses and in no way worse off than the European market (pay no attention to the fact that HTC's best stuff shows up in Europe months before it does here).
- They oppose a Cellphone Users Bill of Rights in Arizona (and elsewhere).
- They're fond of Early Termination Fees, “Early Termination Fees provide consumers with numerous benefits, notably lower costs for wireless services and products.”
Imagine if your ISP loaded a bunch of crapware onto your desktop and it was required for you to get online? Or if they actually kept your computer from being able to, say, use your preferred music program? Or kept it from using USB because they want to make sure you access your peripherals via a program they sell? Or replaced your Start Menu with stuff pointing to their for-pay services? This sort of thing is standard procedure in much of the smartphone and cellphone world, and it stinks.
But WMExperts, if this makes you so angry, why don't you just boycott the conference? Good point -- but we're going to the conference for the same reason we use Smartphones -- there's just so much compelling stuff that we either put up with or find ways around the bad stuff. More importantly -- we go because we get to talk to other people about how the “bad stuff” is crap and think about ways to make these companies change.
The good news is that we're making progress. Both Verizon and then later AT&T have both found it necessary to open up (or at least claim they're opening up) their networks to a wider variety of apps and devices. Unlimited everything plans are a great step toward making your smarthphone's relationship with the internet identical to your computer's -- i.e. you pays your money and you gets your internet, you can buy services from your ISP if you like, but you don't have to.
So CTIA: we hate to break it to you, but the day is coming when the companies you represent are going to have to give up all these nefarious ways to add more revenue streams. They're going to have to become “dumb pipes.” And we can't wait. Meanwhile, we're happy to come to your house and eat your food. Yes, it makes us hypocrites and we do feel a little bad about that, but while we're at your house, eating your food, we'll be telling your kids that there's a better way to act.