Phones are phones. A modern mobile device can run on any network if you just change out its SIM card. There is no real danger to anyone or anything in any phone on the market.
Yet carriers, given monopoly rights through sales of your electromagnetic spectrum by the government over the last decade, now have absolute power to decide what phone you will be allowed to use.
Want an iPhone? You can only get it if you use AT&T's network. Or so says AT&T. I know -- some people "break" their iPhones so they can use them elsewhere. I don't want to have to break contracts or laws in order to use the Internet device of my choice.
This gives carriers a life-and-death power over the companies that make phones. Verizon doesn't like how the Palm Pre sold through Sprint, so it's not supporting it. Palm stock is down nearly 10% on the news, and it's not yet official.
(Palm Pre is a good phone. C|Net authors called it the best of CES just this January.)
This is why the issue of net neutrality, especially wireless net neutrality, is so important. The size of a market should be based on supply and demand, not the fiat of one or two companies.
The government created this market. The government set the rules for this market. This is not a question of government or no-government. It's a question of competition and markets, whether the former will be free and how big the latter will be.
Our government's decisions in creating this market, allowing the purchase of monopolies through auctions, were based on engineering assumptions that have since been overcome. Interference can be controlled, through regulation of client devices. Spectrum is not a set of parallel railroad tracks -- it's an ocean.
Don't believe me? Where are you, a coffee shop? Got WiFi? Look around you -- see all those other people using the same bandwidth? Check the networks around you -- in my neighborhood you can find a half-dozen or more just about anywhere.
Fact is we can have a true mobile Internet. Fact is we don't have to support monopolies with no technical justification. Yes we can. We have only to decide to move in that direction, and we can make it happen.
What's stopping us?
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com