Thankfully, that seems to be a thing of the past now and in
One influential voice pushing for open networks is Bob Frankston, who is probably best known for co-developing the first spreadsheet, VisiCalc. Now among other things he is a popular commentator and advocate for the user’s right to access any service they want, with the network limited to providing the channel to get to such services.
As he writes in a post on his web site (www.frankston.com/public/?name=OurInternet) , the current telecom model gives control to the carrier at the expense of our own communications need (ie, the ability to use the applications and services of our own choosing). “We must not tolerate being forced to buy services from providers that have a stranglehold on our wires – whether they are physical wires or radios. Today our ability to communicate is limited by the unenlightened business needs of the carriers. This is intolerable and inexcusable,” he writes.
According to Frankston, the biggest impetus for change will come from investors who realise they have far more to gain if the carriers were not in the position to limit opportunity. The other argument is that applications like Skype that run on top of the service provider’s network are fine, but who pays for the investment in future infrastructure? It was brought up in an interview I had last week with Keith White, Alcatel-Lucent APAC security services director, who suggested that such services were threatening the business model of the carriers, which then wouldn’t be able to fund network expansion.
It’s probably the most pressing argument in the telecom world today and runs into the whole network neutrality debate (whether carriers should be able to favour certain applications or services over others). And of course there are no easy answers. Telecom providers are seeing their revenues eroded by new services such as VoIP, but many are adapting and there are no shortages of new entrants willing to give the user what they want. New business models will appear and some players may well go out of business.
In the end, it all boils down to competition. Apple has plenty of competition among device vendors, which is why I don’t think it will be able to keep it’s closed model of doing business with the iPhone, particularly when it comes to