The reports of Verizon potentially blocking Google Wallet from its phones set off the alarm bells of some net neutrality advocates who have long worried that carriers would block applications that compete with their own native apps. Free Press policy director Matt Wood said today that Verizon's decision to not support Google Wallet on the Galaxy Nexus was "a disappointing move" that "will provide harmful to consumers, competition and innovation." Wood also said that Verizon's actions illustrated the "grave mistake" that the FCC made last year when it crafted a network neutrality policy that largely gave wireless carriers free reign over their network management practices.
Art Brodsky, a spokesman for Public Knowledge, said that Verizon's actions would violate the FCC's net neutrality rules if they had tried to restrict access to Google Wallet over their DSL or fiber-optic Web services. But because "the rules are so much looser in the wireless world," Brodsky said that Verizon was not violating the FCC's order. He did say, however, that "as a matter of principle, consumers should have the right to access any application over any device over any service."
Google Wallet, announced this past spring, utilizes NFC technology to send very short-range signals to nearby NFC tags to complete payments -- or as Google tells it, you'll only have to tap your smartphone on a store's credit card processor and you're good to go. Google debuted the application on the Sprint network with the Nexus S 4G device and the company has said that the app should come to other Android-based devices on other wireless networks in the near future.
NFC payments have become a hot feature on smartphones ever since Google first enabled NFC technology on its Android operating system with the Android 2.3 ("Gingerbread") update last year. Online payment company PayPal has also developed an NFC-based mobile payment application that runs on the Google Nexus S smartphone.
Read more about anti-malware in Network World's Anti-malware section.