A week ago I wrote a long rant about the wireless carrier business model after the news that a few carriers were plotting a walled-garden-style rival to Google and Yahoo. Well, it looks like I'm not alone in that hope, BoingBoing.net points us to a great new paper from Colubmia University's Tim Wu which calls for a new model of wireless service.
Most interesting (from my initial skim, anyway) are the parallels the paper draws between the current state of the wireless industry and the monopolistic practices of AT&T in the mid 20th-century. Seriously, folks, go get the pdf and read it over your lunchbreak sometime.
Over the next decade, regulators will spend increasing time on the conflicts between the private interests of the wireless industry and the public's interest in the best uses of its spectrum. This report examines the practices of the wireless industry with an eye toward understanding their influence on innovation and consumer welfare.
This report finds a mixed picture. The wireless industry, over the last decade, has succeeded in bringing wireless telephony at competitive prices to the American public. Yet at the same time we also find the wireless carriers aggressively controlling product design and innovation in the equipment and application markets, to the detriment of consumers. Their policies, in the wired world, would be considered outrageous, in some cases illegal, and in some cases simply misguided.