Let's say, hypothetically, that mobile Internet connections are allowed to be discriminated between. So, for example, a major operator like AT&T or Orange or Vodafone can charge "upstream" providers, such as an online gaming firm, for higher-quality connections for its services delivery to mobile users, over and above, say Facebook traffic.
[Note that this is for differential performance of *Internet* delivered services, within the context of overall "Internet Access", not separate non-Internet operator-hosted applications]
The problem is that WoW or EA or whoever will want a guarantee, not just a vague promise of better-than-average service. Would you pay for a business class airfare if you only knew you had an unspecified *probability* of a larger seat and better food?
In other words, they'll want an SLA, a mechanism for recourse if they don't get what they've paid for, and a means of monitoring/reporting that better quality was delivered as promised.
But the gating factor for mobile performance often isn't things like latency & congestion.... it's basic coverage. And for the operator, it's especially difficult to guarantee performance if the user is on the edge of the cell, or if mobility means that lots of high-priority people suddenly cluster together (eg a gaming convention).
Realistically, the only way to give reasonable, statistical *guarantees* and SLAs for mobile data QoS is to deploy lots of femtocells and/or use WiFi offload or other cast-iron approaches to coverage (a ton of DAS, or repeaters). And then actually do measurements and tests on what the indoor coverage is really like. That means rather than "drive tests", they ought to be doing "walk tests" inside buildings.
So.... lots of femtos or WiFi. Which, almost certainly, will need to be (partly) run over other telcos' networks. And connected via... the Internet.
In other words, any operator hoping to buid a non-neutral mobile Internet service had better hope that either:
- the fixed-access Internet *is* neutral, or..
- ... that their CFO is happy to pay for lots of QoS/prioritisation from the fixed broadband guys themselves, for guarantees for the femto traffic (and signalling).