Sprint’s recently-launched system of broadband speeds without the need for any cabling sounded too good to be true. It now looks like the catch could be throttled connections for anyone using a peer-to-peer file-sharing service.
The service debuted in Baltimore this week, with Washington DC and Chicago getting the system soon and service to several other major cities in the pipeline (or the airwaves to be precise). ‘XOHM’, as Spring has dubbed the service, lets subscribers get broadband access wirelessly without a phone line or cable connection.
Unlike existing systems based on the 3G cellphone network, XOHM uses WIMAX, a dedicated wireless network for internet traffic. Subscribers can choose between a home-only service, a mobile service (which should work throughout the relevant city) or both.
One writer who’s trialled the system at home says that set-up was a little fiddly, but the service is reliable. He reports download speeds of 3.4Mbps, which isn’t too shabby for a wireless service. Meanwhile a test of the service on the move found slightly lower speeds but with online video and Skype working without issue. Even World of Warcraft worked fine, which should prompt some gags about players finally seeing sunlight.
So in theory, everything should be rosy. Unlike existing mobile broadband systems, there don’t appear to be any monthly download limits, which means it could really be a practical option for people who don’t want, or can’t get a phone or cable based service.
The problem is that XOHM’s acceptable use policy says: “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.”
Whether such policies are legal is an ongoing question. But legit or otherwise, a service based around freeing the internet from physical constraints is somewhat undermined when the provider can limit particular types of internet use.