Warning: Jailbreaking the iPhone can have devastating consequences

Who knew that jailbreaking an iPhone could have such devastating consequences such as taking down a major operator's network and causing a public-safety threat? Apple does. Such were Apple's responses to a query from the U.S. Copyright Office which is consideration a request to exempt the iPhone from the anti-circumvention provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which makes jailbreaking Apple's iPhone software illegal.

Apple warns of devastating consequences that sound like the next blockbuster apocalyptic movie: denial of service attacks, network tower crashes, invasion of privacy and compromised public safety, to name a few. Thank goodness the estimated 2.3 million jail broken iPhones have primarily been used by end users who just want to be able to run whatever apps and services they want.

Consumers are becoming keenly aware of the applications they can and cannot have, thanks in part to organizations like Free Press. For instance, the group made a stink last month because AT&T is allowing Major League Baseball fans to stream live games onto their iPhones via 3G while restricting other video streaming services such as SlingMedia, which is only enabled via a WiFi connection.

Whether it's legal or not, the number of jail broken devices will continue to rise as long as Apple and AT&T keep a tight rein on what's allowed on the network. I just hope the world doesn't end.

On another note, the industry had known since May that Verizon Communications was planning to give its broadband customers WiFi. It announced an expanded deal with WiFi aggregator Boingo this week to do just that. But as Glenn Fleishman at Wi-Fi Net News dug further into the details, he discovered the offering is quite restrictive. For one, the offering only applies to laptops using Windows XP/Vista (32-bit only). No PDAs, phones, desktop PCs or Macs are eligible. Moreover, Verizon is limiting the free offer to higher-tiered DSL and fiber (FiOS) subscribers. Existing 3 Mbps DSL or faster and 20 Mbps FiOS or faster customers are the only ones who qualify. And only new FiOS customers who buy 25 Mbps or faster connections will qualify.

Compared with more generous and straight forward offerings from rivals Cablevision, which is building out its own WiFi hotzones (Verizon called it a marketing stunt), and AT&T, which also owns its own hotspots, it's hard to believe this will be any sort of competitive differentiator for Verizon. Does this play into the fact that service providers like Verizon should jump back into owning hotspots?--Lynnette