Let’s hope no mobile app developers actually implement the Verizon API for turbo bandwidth. There are a thousand reasons why this is a flawed idea, even without getting into core net neutrality issues. Below are three macro-level issues and one counter-offer to Verizon.
1. Verizon Wireless is basically a monopoly
If it was a truly competitive market, then Verizon can offer turbo, nitro and nuclear and I’d have no issue with it. I’d just go elsewhere. Unfortunately this is a monopoly/duopoly situation in most of the US.
2. Hitting turbo could be taking Pepto-Bismol for a headache
Consumers don’t know why their app is “slow”. Maybe it is last mile bandwidth. Maybe not. There are many causes for “slow” apps. You ready to hit “turbo”, pay Verizon and then not get the desired result because of a client issue on your mobile phone or iPad, a third party ISP’s congested Cisco router queuing packets on the route between your app provider and Verizon, or some database issues that your app provider is dealing with? The articles suggest the user will hit the turbo button but it is problematic even if it the app requesting more bandwidth on behalf of the user.
3. Verizon may be the source of the problem
Last mile bandwidth issues are not always caused by too much demand. What if Verizon Wireless has a problem causing the available local bandwidth supply to be cut in half? Should you pay for that by hitting the turbo button and (maybe) getting enough priority to get more packets through? What if Verizon does some poor design or engineering – should you pay for that? By the way, this type of data prioritization implementation isn’t easy – it may not work well even if everything else is in line – MPLS schemes, designed for similar purposes, often fail.
Counter-proposal: we get what we pay for…both ways
Verizon Wireless can add the turbo feature…if Verizon credits its customers each time one of our apps is slow due to the bandwidth being less than we are paying for and there is proper visibility for credibility. If I want priority, I’ll hit the turbo button. If I actually get the improved performance, improved to a transfer rate higher than I am paying for, then I will gladly pay for it using the credits I built up during all the times Verizon was giving me less bandwidth than I was paying for. And I’ll happily collect money from VZW each month when the balance is in my favor.
A variant of this counter-proposal to consider could be a two-way API between Verizon and the app providers – they maintain this bandwidth SLA of sorts and true up each month. I’ve heard folks like Aswath suggest similar (I believe) though I haven’t thought through it enough. They can explain it in more detail and have thought through the positives and negatives.
The best “solution” would really be no solution. Instead of investing in bandwidth prioritization technology, instrumentation, reporting, regulation, DPI, metering, billing, governance, etc…invest all that time and capital in minimizing the amount of time that bandwidth is an issue to begin with. Bandwidth really shouldn’t be the limiting factor – there is more value for everyone and more revenue in the ecosystem for all the players if assumed bandwidth constraints aren’t somewhat artificially throttling demand.Google+