|Project Fi may be a bigger part of Google's future than currently appears.|
Today is promising to be a day about ad-blocking. Hot on the heels of the news that Yahoo is preventing some users from accessing email services if they have ad-blockers enabled, comes a report in the Daily Telegraph, which suggests that EE, currently the UK's largest mobile network, will offer customers the option to block ads at a network level.
This doesn't promise to end well.
Presumably web site publishers have several lines of recourse against EE if it were to enable this offering across its network. No doubt OFCOM would get involved, and there are some very concerning precedents for net neutrality. Presumably allowing this selective control of what the customer sees (almost certainly hand in hand with an financially attractive offer to allow certain advertisers content through) requires only logical one step to jump from blocking adverts to blocking websites that the network finds unacceptable.
Ultimately large content networks could block any user arriving from an EE IP address from ever seeing their content. Which would make all those data caps meaningless as the web bifurcates into fiefdoms of interest looking to extract funding from the consumer, publisher and network in different ways.
iPhone users would see a different internet to EE users who see a different internet to PC users and so on.
I guess there's a very good reason why Google has taken the first steps to building its own mobile service. It can guarantee delivery of its content (and by this I mean adverts) without any third-party coming between it and the customer.
Project Fi might be in its infancy, but if the company feels that its revenue streams are at threat from mobile network action like this it's entirely possible that Google could escalate things quickly. For example, use advertising to fully subsidise customer's mobile service plans and cut off the mobile operators revenue streams.
Worst case scenario of course...