T-Mobile punches a hall through the cellular Internet wall

Summary:As cellular carriers gained more of the market, with their faster "broadband" offerings they threatened the basic end-to-end concept. Now the first crack has appeared in that wall.

T-Mobile spokesmodel Catherine Zeta Jones
T-Mobile has decided it will become the first major cellular carrier to offer real Internet service.

This is important. Until now mobile carriers have all offered only "walled gardens," a select group of Web sites users could access, which often paid the carriers for the privilege.

T-Mobile is making the move under the name Web'n'walk, introducing new devices with larger screens that can see an actual Web page. Google.Com has been designated as the browser's "official" home page. (Personally I'd prefer http://blogs.zdnet.com/open-source/.)

Why am I pointing this out in a blog called open source? Because at its heart the Internet is the ultimate open source project. The Internet's standards bodies have tried (sometimes unsuccessfully) to keep propretary technology out of basic Internet standards, so that the resource will remain free and open.

As cellular carriers gained more of the market, with their faster "broadband" offerings (the speeds are measured in just the hundreds of kilobits per second, hence the quote marks) they threatened the basic end-to-end concept. Now the first crack has appeared in that wall.

It will be interesting to see how users go for this, and whether they recognize the difference between a protected "walled garden" approach that claims to protect them (but doesn't always) and the real Internet.

Topics: Mobility

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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