One of the coolest features, by far, of the Samsung Galaxy S5 is the Download Booster. The feature uses a combination of Wi-Fi and wireless 4G LTE to achieve incredible speeds when downloading larger files -- we're talking five times that of cable speed. This was a huge selling point of the S5.
Unfortunately, mobile carriers decided to get in the way of such progress and say "nay nay" to the Download Booster. In fact, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon went so far as to remove the app from the phone -- or at least hid it well enough so that it requires a third-party solution to get it back (and even then, it doesn't really work as expected). T-Mobile, on the other hand, left the Download Booster intact.
I understand, at least on paper, why they block it. They'd rather users be on Wi-Fi at all times and leave the precious 4G for when wireless isn't an option. And if you strain your eyes enough, you can see a possible plus for the removal -- data overages. If you're streaming a movie on your device and the Download Booster kicks in, you're using a lot of data from your allotted amount. Without the Download Booster, you'd only be using Wi-Fi. So, there's that.
But here's my problem with the removal/disabling of the Download Booster -- we, as users, pay for use of 4G. We even pay ridiculous sums of money to use more and more bandwidth (and do so knowing we'll pay the overage fee should we use more than our allotted amount). Isn't it our right to use our slice of the datapipe pie as we see fit, even if it means continually coughing up more money to our mobile carriers?
Now, to be fair, some carriers are in the process of vetting the tool to see if it can be deployed. By "vetting," I mean stalling. While the carriers vet away, XDA Developers are at work on a solution. More than likely, a rooted solution will occur before the carriers open the datapipe floodgates. Unfortunately, using a solution from XDA would mean negating the warranty on the device -- for a feature that was supposed to be on the phone in the first place. Make sense out of that.
Is there another workaround?
That depends. Some reports say that using a third-party launcher (like Nova Launcher) -- one that allows you to add shortcuts to the home screen -- will allow you to add a launcher for the Download Booster. If that's the case, your carrier simply hid the application from sight. If your mobile carrier removed it all together, your only hope is that they see reason and bring it back, or a ROM is released that includes the Download Booster.
A worst-case scenario
I want to paint a picture for you. What happens, in the possible near future, if network carriers opt to lower data caps? The victim in this scenario is the consumer.
I remember a conversation I had with another gentleman in the industry about network carriers and how they're going to get into a war with the likes of Netflix. Because so many people are streaming data, network carriers are going to either raise their rates or lower their caps to compensate for the immense amount of data being streamed. This also falls in line with the Net Neutrality issue. Ultimately, there is no good answer or at least one that solves everyone's problems.
- The consumer is paying for a service and wants the best possible price for the best possible product
- The network carriers want their slice of the pie but not all datapipes can handle the ever-growing loads
- Mobile carriers want their slice of the pie and want to hand off data streaming to network carriers
- The streaming services want their piece of the pie but have carriers in the way
How do you solve a problem like this without some sort of intervention? And who intervenes?
All of this feeds into the Download Booster issue, and until some sort of logic is forced into the works, it will never be resolved.
For me, what this issue brings up is that OEMs like Samsung, Motorola, and HTC can innovate and create some of the most astounding features ever seen on a mobile device -- only to have that innovation blocked by carriers.
Mobile carriers need to stop interfering with innovation and network carriers need to stop acting as if their datapipes are going to explode from usage. In the end, the consumer is X factor. We should be the ones calling the shots and casting our votes with our money. What would happen if everyone decided they wanted to make use of the Download Booster and jumped ship for T-Mobile? Would AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint regret their decision to remove or hide the Galaxy S5 feature? I bet they would.
What do you think? Did the carriers make the right call in blocking, removing, or hiding the Download Booster? Or should it be the consumers choice? Share your thoughts about this issue in the discussion thread below.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.