I've written before about the differing policies that mobile operators are employing with regard to their 3G flatrate and other data services. There are widely varying monthly caps - in the UK, Voda's new one is 120MB, in contrast to Orange's measly 30MB and T-Mobile's generous 1GB. Some are permitting VoIP, others prohibit it, some charge more. The whole N95 saga has illustrated just how different certain operators' phones are, even when they're notionally the same model.
Many operators also use forms of traffic shaping, packet inspection and other stuff in the data path, usually hidden to the end user. There's an assumption that this might also throttle download speeds, interfere with specific applications (P2P, VoIP etc). It certainly happens in the fixed-broadband world.
The interesting thing is that by and large, disclosure is poor. Operators will often deny that they're doing anything, or else customer service staff will not have been given adequate information by the technical guys.
I'm predicting that the skulduggery will have to stop.
Operators will need to be upfront about what their usage terms are (in plain English) as comparisons become more readily available. Unless they get exclusives, operators are also likely to need to compete on how their version of customers' chosen handsets perform. I expect to see comparison charts of features / speed / lock-downs between different carriers' versions of phones and the "vanilla" variants. And, lastly, I expect that operators will need to start to divulge more about their traffic-shaping policy. Otherwise they'll find that other people will reverse-engineer it and do it for them.
Based on a few discussions I've had recently, this is also an area where I expect pressure to be put on regulators or business standards bodies by consumer groups.
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