By Stephen Schenck | November 3, 2011 12:20 PM
You already pay for smartphone service, pay for a data plan, and maybe even pay for tethering. After all that, would you be interested in paying a little bit more now and then in order to maintain a quality connection? Verizon recently talked about plans to open up some APIs to developers, including one that would let you buy a temporary bandwidth turbo boost for a small fee.
The idea is that users will at some point get frustrated in a video that keeps pausing to buffer mid-stream, and would be given the opportunity to buy themselves some priority network access. Just how long of a boost we’re talking about, or what it might cost you, haven’t been revealed. Once it publishes its APIs, now planned for sometime by Q3 2012, developers could add the option to their apps like an in-app purchase; it’s not clear if they’d get a cut of the income.
Aside from the general resistance we feel to being continuously nickle-and-dimed on our mobile bills, this particular idea seems like it’s just asking for trouble. How is a user to know when connection problems are being caused by how Verizon is allocating bandwidth, rather than an issue with the remote server you’re trying to reach? What if you’re just in a fringe area with reception problems? In either case, there’s nothing Verizon’s turbo boost could do to help out. Apps might be able to tell when a boost would be beneficial by analyzing network statistics, but will they bother?
Ultimately, bandwidth is limited, and if a Verizon cell tower is already operating near capacity and slowing-down connections – the kind of situation where this turbo function would be most used – won’t a few users buying boosts necessarily mean even further degrading the connections of the other subscribers who thought just paying their normal monthly bill was enough to get good service?
Maybe the better question is, does anyone think this is a good idea?