Sunday, November 06, 2011

Verizon Wireless planning API to 'turbocharge' user bandwidth, for a fee

In what reminds us somewhat of the "turbo" button pilots used to use on the original, not SyFy, "BattleStar: Galactica," Verizon Wireless is set to publish an API that will enable users --- for a small fee --- to temporarily juice up their data speed.

Let's say, for example, you're enjoying streaming live video of a sports event. Suddenly, the video starts to jitter and you hear the familiar stutter-like sound that you know means you're not going to be "enjoying" anything any longer. You could hit a "turbo" button, and after agreeing to a microtransaction, you'll see your bandwidth given priority over others.

The turbo boost would be app-specific, however, and the app must utilize Verizon's "network optimization" API, which the carrier hopes to publish by the third quarter of 2012. There would also need to be some sort of microtransaction API involved, as well.

Hugh Fletcher, associate director for technology in Verizon's Product Development and Technology team said,

"I think one of the things that you could do is guaranteed quality of service. One of the things that we are right now is very democratic in terms of allocating spectrum and bandwidth to users. And just because you request a high quality of service doesn't mean you're gonna get it. [The network] will try to give it to you, but if there's a lot of congestion, a lot of people using it, it won't kick people off.

"I think you could anticipate that maybe you'll have a Skype call that starts going bad. Wouldn't you like to be able to hit the turbo button and have that come back up to be a good call?"

While on the surface, this sort of thing sounds good for those who can afford it, it could be seen as the first step toward the end of net neutrality. At least, Verizon said, the API won't kick users off to try to give "paying customers" more bandwidth. At least, that's the way it's planned NOW.

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