Android

A slap in the face of innovation: Galaxy S5 Download Booster denied by major mobile carriers

One of the coolest features of the Samsung Galaxy S5 has been removed or hidden by some of the largest US mobile carriers. Jack Wallen reacts.

Samsung Download booster

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.

About

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.

7 comments
bansidhar9
bansidhar9

These carriers do not want to loose money on time taken for data transfer, more data more time and more resulting money,

Carrera935
Carrera935

It should be the consumers choice.

Pronounce
Pronounce

When I read the scenario, before reading the article, I assumed that the carriers were trying to get more money for data usage. My experience with Verizon has been that my tablet's data consumption gets switched from WiFi to cellular without my knowledge. This has happened multiple times on two different tablets, and so to solve the problem we've had to turn cellular data off at the account level.

doumor99
doumor99

These carriers are just like, cable companies, lawyers, insurance companies, and spam.

They mine data then sell it even though they say this is not being practiced. Yahoo was the worst. I think my Yahoo ID was established in 1994 when you could have a four character password. When I stopped using Yahoo mail and messenger I was being spammed with over 1500 emails a day. Try that on your smartphone!

I bought an unlocked S-3 galaxy and a pay in advance plan. or charge my card. Work fine on Wi-Fi, sucks on 4G at my house. Nothing is available unless I roam to one of the big four data miners in said issue above.

Gisabun
Gisabun

This reminds me [a bit] of when some PC manufacturers disabled temporarily or permanently the Intel VT technology in laptops [was it because enabling them could either reduce battery time and/or overheating issues - can't remember].

Carriers point could be to "protect" their clients from paying extra. Hmmmm. I doubt that. They want the client to pay or an excuse later to either increase prices or reduce the cap.

It should be up to the client to decided. Make it easy: give them a warning note in the box.

InfoStack
InfoStack

Jack, carriers continue to try to resurrect the silo walls after Jobs tore them down.  The market needs to understand better the concept of "application coverage" that Ericsson introduced in 2013.  http://bit.ly/1jLJmAU

Based on this understanding and the fact that packet delivery drops off dramatically at cell boundaries (and hence at 2-3x indoors) for VoLTE to ever scale, the carriers should embrace voice and SMS offload to wifi.  So it's not just data/content downloads (and uploads) but voice performance in the future too that will necessitate greater, not less, integration with Wifi. 

ilovesards
ilovesards

yyyyaaaarrrr ....here in Bahrain where we get  unlimited thresholds (but will slow down after a certain GB  download is reached= say, when you reached 4GB , your download speed reduces to 2kbps ...so and so...depending on plans=some thresholds at 20GB for ritz people like yeooww ..)  , it will be good.  But  thousand percent all carriers  here will  crack this booster  so it can cook only  your brain .


yes,  this  is a  technology  boost. but  like fuel cells, nano cells, deuterium fuels  ...etc (specially the  etc..)  all the profits must be  ... for the top only . otherwise, unwise  eh ..??