Akamai Hopes to Put Your Wireless Data in The Fast Lane

Links on mobile devices take an average of 5-6 seconds longer to load than those opened on desktops. Massachusetts-based company Akamai is out to help solve that problem, at least for companies willing to pay. Because the truth is, some consumers abandon slow-moving mobile transactions if they take too long. Akamai aims to create a “fast lane” on the radio waves on which wireless services are offered.

The proposed “fast lane” would “allow companies to pay extra to have their Web page or app data transmitted ahead of others,” according to MIT Technology Review. “Akamai’s move is part of a growing effort to figure out how to deliver information to your phone faster but it could raise fairness issues, depending on how much the premium service lengthens wait times for people who don’t pay more.”

Akamai knows what it’s doing in this industry, currently running 120,000 servers on 1,200 networks in 81 countries, “where it hosts Web content for its clients near locations of expected demand,” explains the article. Now, Akamai is partnering with Ericsson, the company responsible for making 40 percent of radio antennas that transmit data to smartphones, to bring their business concept to wireless.

The partnership results in something called the Mobile Cloud Accelerator, which “builds on the way wireless carriers already give voice calls priority over other data. Right now, to avoid choppy conversations, mobile carriers place data associated with voice calls at the front of the queue, ahead of text messages, e-mails, videos, or photos. Under the new protocols, companies can pay to access a tier of premium data service,” according to the article.

In tests thus far, the new technology has helped to speed up loading links on mobile. Whereas a typical 200-kilobyte mobile Web page took between 3.5 and 7 seconds to load, while in the “fast lane,” it took an average of only 1-3 seconds.

But this brings up concerns about net neutrality, suggests Technology Review. “As the amount of data on wireless networks soars, any effort to treat some bits differently from others could raise concerns. In recent years some academics and legal experts have advocated a concept called net neutrality, which in its purest interpretation means no Internet service or government should treat data differently, or charge differently, on the basis of its content.”