Sprint Next to Attempt Throttling With XOHM

By  |  Monday, September 29, 2008 at 11:07 pm

Do these companies ever learn? The blogosphere was abuzz Monday with the latest company to try to throttle the bandwidth usage of its users–Sprint’s WiMax venture XOHM. The service launched in Baltimore today, but hidden within its “Acceptable Use Policy” was the fact that it was reserving the right to throttle bandwidth.

Sound familiar? That’s because we’ve been through this drill so many times before.

The clause in the company’s policy that’s getting the attention goes like this, edited for brevity:

To ensure a high-quality experience for its entire subscriber base, XOHM may use various tools and techniques designed to limit the bandwidth available for certain bandwidth intensive applications or protocols, such as file sharing.

It’s almost incomprehensible why Sprint would even attempt to pass this off on consumers, in,the light of the Comcast throttling fracas and T-Mobile’s attempt at bandwidth management with the G1 phone.

The FCC is beginning to notice the possible ramifications of throttling, and has already said in its broadband policy statement that internet access should be open and unfettered, meaning companies cannot intentionally slow down connections for specific types of applications. That’s exactly what’s happening here.

Free Press policy director Ben Scott spoke out on the subject Monday, saying the company must demonstrate why such a policy is necessary.

“We are very troubled by this development and the larger moves across the wireless industry to limit consumer access to the legal content and services of their choice. We hope that Sprint will quickly disclose exactly what tools and techniques it plans to use, and demonstrate why it is necessary to maintain a closed network when consumers demand an open Internet.”

I tend to agree here. I’ve said it before, companies deserve to have the right to manage their networks. However, there are other ways to handle it than just automatically throttling. For example, charging more is certainly an option. A user shouldn’t expect to pay the same for downloading tens of GBs, or more, when the average user is using far less. I’ve always been an advocate of a la carte, and maybe ending this one-size-fits-all business model for internet access might be a good idea.

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