Editor's Corner

Verizon Wireless is expected to officially announced that it has changed its policy and will now allow subscribers to use several EV-DO handsets as high-speed modems for their laptops. Verizon has traditionally restricted this type of usage in its terms of service agreement, but many Verizon subscribers have secretly used their phones as modems anyway, risking Verizon cutting off their service or charging high data transmission fees.

Interestingly enough, Verizon and other operators have extremely stringent user agreements when it comes to accessing high-speed data services via a laptop. Under Verizon's and Cingular Wireless' user agreements, customers can't upload, download or stream movies, music or games; use VoIP (which you wouldn't want to do anyway--since at this point, the quality is poor) and other server devices and hosted computer applications; peer-to-peer file sharing; or as a backup for private lines or dedicated data connections.

Obviously these high-speed data networks won't be positioned as a competitor to DSL or cable anytime soon. One analyst friend I talked to who advises enterprise clients on their wireless purchases, says many users simply ignore some of these restrictions, and that's if they even know about them. He says operators can't really enforce some of their own restrictions because they don't have the knowledge of what the data is since they only see traffic. The restrictions are there in the first place because carriers worry about network capacity, which really isn't an issue today since the market is nascent. But as capacity becomes more of a concern, carriers need to figure out how to address these restrictions without alienating users. - Lynnette