Click here to close now.

SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Srinivasan Sundara Rajan, Blue Box Blog

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, Microservices Journal, Virtualization, Web 2.0, Security, SDN Journal

Cloud Expo: Article

Carriers, Apple, Google, Microsoft... Fighting Over Slices of the Pie

Part 3 | Do the bit-carriers really have an open playing field to do what they want?

Much of the dialog over net neutrality seems rather dated. This is understandable, since the debate has been going on since last century.

The January 14th Federal Appeal Court decision in favor of the Internet access providers gave those companies (apparently) a degree of latitude to selectively block or prioritize edge provider services. We know that they want to do this, even though they might be coy about admitting it. Verizon, the plaintiff in the recent appeal case, issued a statement saying that nothing much will change as a result of this decision. We all expect Verizon and the other ISPs to take advantage of this change to the maximum extent they can. If they don't their shareholders might be a bit upset, after spending all that time and money.

However, there's more to this than the presence or absence of the FCC's now depleted Open Internet Rules, now substantially demolished. Do the bit-carriers really have an open playing field to do what they want? Since this debate started, the Internet has moved on. As a result the expectations of the access service-providers on one side, and the network neutrality proponents on the other, may both have to be revised. In my last blog on the topic of net neutrality, I hinted that there might be other factors in play that could make the whole concept less simple than it was when the topic first became hot. One of these factors is the role (and power) of the device manufacturers. Let's start there.

Apple was one of the first companies to demonstrate that there's more than one way to build a walled garden. While the Internet access providers dreamed of an end to net neutrality so they could control and charge for the flow of media from edge providers to content providers, Apple and others have already succeeded in doing something similar, and without spending huge amounts on legal actions and lobbying. And without upsetting their customers much, either.

In the mobile world, users of iPhones are pretty much limited to the apps chosen by Apple and offered in the Apple App store. By and large, those Apple-selected apps, which often dominate the users' experience, define the edge providers that the iPhone can access. Of course, general-purpose web browsing is still available, but most people live quite happily within the walled garden of apps approved by Apple. Apple led the way in circumscribing user behavior in this way, but the fashion quickly caught on. Android users have the Google (Play) store, and Windows Mobile users have the Windows Phone Store.

We can see the same thing happening for fixed-line Internet customers using desktops and notebooks. Oddly, Linux users were the first to experience the app-store approach. Some Linux distributions have long provided their users with an easy route to install approved applications from online repositories; non-approved apps are still available, it's just harder work to get them. With recent releases of Apple OS/X (Snow Leopard onward), the default way of buying software is via the Apple store; buying direct from a third-party vendor is starting to feel like a rather exceptional thing to do, as users are challenged when they try to bypass the store and have to tweak some security settings to make it possible to install a non-official app. From Windows 8.1 onward, Microsoft Windows users have their own App store too.

I don't believe there is anything suspicious going on here. Apple, Google, Microsoft, and the open source community are all aiming to make life simpler and easier for users, and at the same time create a user environment that is more structured, and controlled. These large corporations and communities are not forcing users into these walled gardens. They are enticing users to come inside and be safe and comfortable. For most ordinary users, this is seen as a fair trade: a win-win situation. Users can always take a walk in the wild woods outside if they want to, it's just that increasingly they don't want to.

Meantime, the US access providers have been busy in their efforts to remove the constraints imposed on them by the FCC. Now, theoretically, they are free to block and favor edge providers as much as they like. Well, perhaps not completely. Google, Apple, MS, and a lot of other companies in the web-connected device business have already built up their own portfolio of favorite web-enabled apps, providing device users with information services, online games, social networking, streaming media services, cloud services and more. Any attempts by the bit carriers to block or favor any of those online services would impact on the perceived value of all those net-connected devices, one way or another. The device manufacturers are now a firmly established part of the Internet value chain, and as such they will not be passive. If an access provider wants to provide preferential service to an edge provider, then the access provider needs to be sure the preferential user experience is not thwarted by the user's device. Or, if an access provider wants to downgrade an edge-provider's service it might be prudent to clear the ground with the device companies first, because they will want to know whom to point the finger at when their device users complain that certain apps no longer work the way they used to.

It seems that the Internet access providers might have to tread carefully here. Today, access ISPs are differentiated just by price for bandwidth, not much else. As long as the service is passably reliable, users can use any ISP. But, by definition any level of blocking or favoring will make a difference. It must, because if it didn't make a noticeable difference, no edge provider would pay for it. The device manufacturers are bound to take notice. Worst case, the device companies can explicitly tell users which ISPs will provide the best user experience for their devices and portfolio of apps, and which are to be avoided. Best case, the access ISPs will have to share the loot with the device vendors to keep them happy.

Either way, it will be interesting to watch the game. Starting with the iPhone, the device companies have mostly called the shots when it comes to defining the user experience. It's not likely they will be content to see this court decision changing that substantially.

More Stories By Esmeralda Swartz

Esmeralda Swartz is CMO of MetraTech, now part of Ericsson. She has spent 15 years as a marketing, product management, and business development technology executive bringing disruptive technologies and companies to market. Esmeralda is responsible for go-to-market strategy and execution, product marketing, product management, business development and partner programs. Prior to MetraTech, Esmeralda was co-founder, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Lightwolf Technologies, a big data management startup. She was previously co-founder and Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development of Soapstone Networks, a developer of OSS software, now part of Extreme Networks (Nasdaq:EXTR). At Avici Systems (Nasdaq:AVCI), Esmeralda was Vice President of Marketing for the networking pioneer from startup through its successful IPO. Early in her career, she was a Director at IDC, where she led the network consulting practice and worked with startup and leading software and hardware companies, and Wall Street clients on product and market strategies. Esmeralda holds a Bachelor of Science with a concentration in Marketing and International Business from Northeastern University.

You can view her other blogs at www.metratech.com/blog.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Latest Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Open Data Centers (ODC), a carrier-neutral colocation provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Open Data Centers is a carrier-neutral data center operator in New Jersey and New York City offering alternative connectivity options for carriers, service providers and enterprise customers.
SYS-CON Events announced today that On the Avenue Marketing Group, a sales and marketing firm that utilizes events to market and sell products to consumers, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. On the Avenue Marketing Group (OTA) is a sales and marketing firm that utilizes events to market and sell products to consumers. On behalf of our clients, we attend thousands of fairs, festivals, exp...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ActiveState, the leading independent Cloud Foundry and Docker-based PaaS provider, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. ActiveState believes that enterprises gain a competitive advantage when they are able to quickly create, deploy and efficiently manage software solutions that immediately create business value, but they face many challenges that ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vitria Technology, Inc. will exhibit at SYS-CON’s @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Vitria will showcase the company’s new IoT Analytics Platform through live demonstrations at booth #330. Vitria’s IoT Analytics Platform, fully integrated and powered by an operational intelligence engine, enables customers to rapidly build and operationalize advanced analytics to deliver timely business outcomes ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® and DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo® and DevOps Summit 2015 Silicon Valley, which will take place November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The WebRTC Summit 2015 New York, to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 16th International Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Plutora, Inc., the leading global provider of enterprise release management and test environment management SaaS solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Headquartered in Mountain View, California, Plutora provides enterprise release management and test environment SaaS solutions to clients in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. Leading companies ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Akana, formerly SOA Software, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Akana’s comprehensive suite of API Management, API Security, Integrated SOA Governance, and Cloud Integration solutions helps businesses accelerate digital transformation by securely extending their reach across multiple channels – mobile, cloud and Internet of Thi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CommVault has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. A singular vision – a belief in a better way to address current and future data management needs – guides CommVault in the development of Singular In...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SafeLogic has been named “Bag Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. SafeLogic provides security products for applications in mobile and server/appliance environments. SafeLogic’s flagship product CryptoComply is a FIPS 140-2 validated cryptographic engine designed to secure data on servers, workstations, appliances, mobile devices, and in the Cloud....
SYS-CON Events announced today that FierceDevOps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. FierceDevOps keeps software developers and IT operations personnel updated on the latest news and trends around the rapidly evolving role of the traditional IT worker.
BroadSoft on Tuesday announced that it is a recipient of the 2014 Frost & Sullivan Market Leadership Award in the Hosted/Cloud Internet Protocol (IP) Telephony market for Latin America. According to Frost & Sullivan market research, the Latin America (LATAM) hosted/cloud Internet Protocol (IP) telephony market, including integrated unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) applications, is currently experiencing a rapid growth trajectory and is expected to exhibit a tenfold rise in annual...
SYS-CON Events announced today that StorPool Storage will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. StorPool is distributed storage software that allows service providers, enterprises and other cloud builders to run data storage on standard x86 servers, instead of using expensive and inefficient storage arrays (SAN).
The best mobile applications are augmented by dedicated servers, the Internet and Cloud services. Mobile developers should focus on one thing: writing the next socially disruptive viral app. Thanks to the cloud, they can focus on the overall solution, not the underlying plumbing. From iOS to Android and Windows, developers can leverage cloud services to create a common cross-platform backend to persist user settings, app data, broadcast notifications, run jobs, etc. This session provide...
SYS-CON Events announced today that QTS Realty Trust, one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing providers of data center facilities and cloud services and a leader in security and compliance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. QTS Realty Trust, Inc. (NYSE: QTS) is a leading national provider of data center solutions and fully managed services, and a leader in security and compliance...