App on your Verizon phone going too slow? Just press the “turbo” button and get a temporary speed boost for $.99. That’s the idea behind a new feature Verizon will be releasing to software developers in 2012.
The price-point is hypothetical, but the software code is real, as Verizon demonstrated at a recent session at their “Innovation Center” in San Francisco that PC Mag attended.
“I think one of the things that you could do is guaranteed quality of service,” Hugh Fletcher, associate director for technology in Verizon’s Product Development and Technology team, told PC Mag. “One of the things that we are right now is very democratic in terms of allocating spectrum and bandwidth to users. And just because you request a high quality of service doesn’t mean you’re gonna get it. [The network] will try to give it to you, but if there’s a lot of congestion, a lot of people using it, it won’t kick people off.”
Note that word, “democratic.” And note how they want to move away from it.
“We understand that Verizon is fighting tooth-and-nail to prevent a “dumb pipe” future for itself,” writes TheVerge. “But mobile apps aren’t arcade games, you shouldn’t have to drop a quarter to keep playing.”
On the one hand, the “turbo button” distributes the costs of high bandwidth to those willing to pay for it. Other the hand, it doesn’t seem like the most consumer-friendly way to deal with network congestion, and it’s a slippery slope towards the demise of network neutrality, with mobile as a backdoor.