Though Sprint may be pushing general Internet access to new levels of accessibility with its new Xohm WiMax service, the company is rubbing potential customers the wrong way by promising nebulous bandwidth limits for the heaviest users. The vague language is reminiscent of Comcast’s behavior in the last several months and will only serve as fodder for a firestorm of angry would-be users.
Traditional good business calls for serving up what the customer asks for. Why? An angry customer is very likely to tell many of their friends about a bad experience and those are then likely to tell other friends. On the Internet, those sentiments spread like wildfire and are devastating to a company’s reputation with an affluent group of potential and existing customers.
The central point of controversy focuses on
Sprint’s Acceptable Use and Network Management Policy for its high-speed data network. In the usage policy statement, Sprint warns against usage that could "result in an excessive burden of system or network resources.” According to the Washington Post.
Recently the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) enacted a broadband policy that promotes open Internet access, which forced Comcast to change its traffic shaping techniques.
Sprint already has bandwidth caps in place for its mobile broadband services for many levels of service, and that typically maxes out at 5GB per month. At least it notifies users before disconnecting service, unlike some of Comcast’s past patterns.
A representative from Free Press comments that “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."
That’s a critical point especially as Google, Yahoo and Apple stocks took a nosedive. Strong demand for content online accessed through a multitude of devices can drive our economy forward. But, for that to happen, people need access to the Internet in the first place.