Breaking Down The Walls Of The Mobile Web's Garden

The FCC recently issued a ruling that partially opens up the American airwaves:

The agency approved rules for an auction of broadcast spectrum that its chairman, Kevin J. Martin, said would promote new consumer services. The rules will let customers use any phone and software they want on networks using about one-third of the spectrum to be auctioned.

No one is quite sure yet how open things are about to get, but in the meantime, today's Wall Street Journal observes that some consumers have broken out of the walled garden themselves:

Ever since wireless companies began offering Internet services on cellphones, users have shared a similar complaint, largely because the companies want to control which sites their customers visit. Phones come with browsers designed to go mainly to the Web sites the carriers chose -- usually the ones they have revenue-sharing deals with. It is possible to go to sites outside this "walled garden," but the experience is so slow and cumbersome that most users don't try. And some of those outside Web sites won't work with the carrier-approved browsers.

But now those walls are beginning to break down, in a development that harkens back to America Online's failed attempt to limit its Internet subscribers' surfing in the 1990s. "Having a Web browser and the ability to browse the open Internet on your mobile phone will be a given in the future," says Tony Cripps, an analyst at research firm Ovum in London. "It's a capability that eventually people would expect to be there, just like text messaging and camera."

Since it was launched in January 2006, more than 15 million cellphone users around the world have downloaded the Opera Mini browser, which is available for free and usable on most cellphones. Early versions of the Opera Mini, developed by Opera Software ASA in Norway, display Web pages in a single column, which works well on cellphones with small screens. The latest version shows Web sites in full-page views that are even more similar to the look on a PC.

Read the entire article @ The Wall Street Journal.

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