This article in Forbes really pisses me off. As if it weren't bad enough that broadband providers are making noise about charging tolls for giving subscribers access to online services like Google; now Verizon, Cingular, and Sprint are making a similar stink about potentially not allowing Sling Media's Mobile version to run on their EVDO networks. As John Wayne once said, "That's Ri-goddamn-diculous".
For those that are not familiar with SlingMedia's Slingbox, it works like this: You attach a Slingbox to your TV source (Cable, Satellite, or even a DVR like a TiVo) and to your broadband Internet connection (Cable, Satellite, or Corporate Network for that matter). The Slingbox then transmits your content (live with Cable or Satellite, or recorded on your DVR) to your PC loaded with the SlingPlayer. It's awesome, and allows true place-shifting (watching your content where ever you are), and with TiVo or similar device, your Slingbox enables place-shifting AND time-shifting as you watch DVR recorded shows on your SmartPhone (like the Treo 700W). This is a truly exciting development, and one that I eagerly await.
So here's the rub - if wireless carriers like Verizon and Cingular are going to even consider throttling Sling Players on their subscribers mobile devices I think it will cause a huge uproar. This is exactly the same asinine argument that broadband providers throw out at the notion of charging extra to allow their paying subscribers to access online services like Google. I already pay for my broadband access at more than $50/month (Comcast), and Google pays for their use of server farm in the form of huge access fees to their carriers (whomever they use). That means that broadband providers would be charging yet again for access and use of their networks. Ridiculous and we can't allow them to get away with it.
The same exact argument holds for wireless carriers, EVDO, and SlingPlayer Mobile. I already pay for my content to DirectTV at more than $80/month and to store it on my TiVo at $13/month (actually more since I own 3 TiVo's). I also already pay Verizon Wireless at more than $100/month for access to their network in the form of an unlimited data fee on their EVDO network. I don't give a rat's ass that Verizon Wireless has Vcast and wants to charge me to view content that I already pay to watch and record on my DirecTV and TiVo. I want to Sling it to my PC (on broadband I already pay for) and to my SmartPhone (on EVDO broadband I already pay for).
Actually, it's hard for me to see exactly how wireless carriers could block SlingPlayer easily. Each Slingbox comes from the end-users IP address, so IP address blocking is out. They'd have to block content type (MPEG 4 I think?) which seems difficult and indiscriminate. Also, why do they allow SmartVideo to serve up their video content, but make noise over SlingMedia? I pay for an account at SmartVideo today, but I will cancel when SlingPlayer Mobile comes out, so I know this SmartVideo works on my SmartPhone today.
What Verizon Wireless (and Cingular and Sprint) need to do is get to get their heads out of their posteriors, see that their arguments are asinine and aggressively partner with SlingMedia to offer this service to their subscribers.
These land grabs are fascinating to watch, but these carriers are not in the content business, and in the end they are going to lose this battle. If Cingular or Sprint partner with SlingMedia, I immediately become their customer and leave Verizon Wireless. After all, wireless providers are now virtually identical, and a commodity. They should concentrate on broadening their coverage, which still sucks considerably out here in Colorado, compete with other wireless carriers on core services, and leave content to other companies. I will never buy video content from Verizon Wireless, it's a stupid business model, one that is doomed to fail and nothing more than an interesting diversion while we wait for our media (which we already paid for) to come to us wherever we are. It's the only thing that makes any sense at all.