Crippled SlingPlayer Software Highlights Network Neutrality Issue



SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone should be hitting the iTunes App Store right about now. I knew it was coming, as I’ve been using a test version of the application for several weeks now. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly the version that Apple (s AAPL) approved. The version I have supports streaming over Wi-Fi, EDGE and 3G networks. With my first-gen iPhone, I couldn’t test the 3G support, but the app worked great over Wi-Fi. EDGE is a less-than-optimal experience that I wouldn’t recommend with SlingPlayer Mobile on any platform. In my usage, I think the app is still rough around the edges in terms of quality and stability, but that could have been due to it being a test version. Production versions I’ve used on Windows Mobile seem to offer a higher-quality experience than the early version I used, so perhaps the final version for iPhone is better.

So it turns out that the $29.99 version you can now purchase is limited to Wi-Fi only. Engadget has a statement from AT&T on why this is, but I’ll save you the reading, although I do recommend you take a look at their exact words. The issue is two-fold: AT&T (s T) is worried about network capacity and they’d really rather have you pay them for television content. Oh, they don’t say exactly that in the official statement, of course; it’s my take on the situation and it’s why we need network neutrality policies.

I don’t expect the networks to be “dumb, fat pipes” only. They’re entitled to offer and sell their own competing services, in my opinion. But they shouldn’t monopolize the pipes with policy to ensure that your only choice for some services are the ones they offer. In this case, I suspect that many folks will do what I’m doing: not buying the software for my iPhone. It’s simply too limiting to be a WiFi-only application, especially when the same software for other platforms on AT&T’s network don’t have this artificial limitation imposed by the carrier. Unfortunately, AT&T doesn’t get hurt at all from my choice, even though they’re essentially the cause. How disappointing all around.



I have not upgraded my Slingbox and I have no issues watching on my 3GS. Maybe I am missing certain features but if I don’t know what “THEY” are I obviously doen’t use/miss them! :)


Forcing you to upgrade the box isn’t a Slingplayer sin, it’s Apple. The original Slingboxes spit out a WMV stream and Apple will NOT allow a WMV decoder on the iPhone “legally”. The new group of Slingbox products use a different codec and are therefore blessed by the almighty Apple. Honestly, every day, for one reason or another, I’m glad my iPhone died and Apple refused to fix it and I ended up with an HTC Fuze where I don’t have to put up with the whims and restrictions of a tinpot dictator like Apple.


I was so looking forward to the slingplayer for my iPhone but there is no way I am spending $30 just to be able to watch TV on my iPhone using wifi.

AT&T/Apple (whomever is responsible) blows…


kevin, you don’t need TV – just read USA Today on your iPhone.


This isn’t good news, although it doesn’t affect me since my jailbroken phone can make the slingplayer app think its on wifi when in reality it’s on 3g.

But what’s an even worse crime is the one that Slingplayer has committed. You are FORCED to upgrade to one of the newer units to use the iphone app. Pure greed on slingplayer’s part, maybe this is some karma in action?


Do a bit of google looking. you can jail break iphone. then hack it to use 3g when it should be using WIFI. still sucks that they are doing this. Sling kicks A on my windows mobile.


The cold hard technical reality is that wireless internet is a shared resource. And the worst case user of that service is a Sling Player. T

hose web based videos that at&t refers to in their announcement? They can grab that content and move it closer to you in the network or have a single copy of it service multiple customers.

A Sling player? It only services one customer and there is very little at&t can do to try and mitigate it’s impact on other network users.

When I get ready to head out for lunch and pull out my iphone to check the weather I don’t really want to wait 30 seconds for the update. But all too often the saturated network here in Seattle will make checking the weather into a ridiculous 30 second chore. The network really doesn’t need sling degrading it even further around here.


Why not just look out the window? It’s worked for years for me, didn’t need to buy a toy to do it.

chung Lee

I am wondering how slingplayer for XP works in viliv S5.

For the wi-fi, it will be a mobile personal TV. As long as unlimited access of hspa, viliv S5 air should be best mobile Tv whereever i go. When you have S5 air, could you test for us. It is very interesting.

Pam T.

As this is the one app I’ve been waiting for to decide on a full-family conversion to iPhones (DH already has one), I’m truly disappointed.

From a OMG, THIS IS GOING TO CRASH THE NETWORK mentality, if that’s what’s partly to blame, I sort of get it. But they don’t limit other bandwidth hogging apps, so Apple and/or AT&T are showing rather two-faced prejudice.

Which, as I’ve said before, they’ve done since the iPhone came out. Free AT&T WiFi hotspot usage for iPhone users, but not for Blackberry or WinMo or others.

At least this time, WinMo phones win – we can still Sling.


“At least this time, WinMo phones win – we can still Sling.”

I assume AT&T will begin more aggressively blocking the Sling Finder Service and common streaming ports. Heck, they blocked my corporate VPN over a work-purchased aircard. Why even offer data services?


Presumably they would start charging people who “abuse” the service and refuse to adhere to the terms and conditions rather than blocking particular services.

As Chung pointed out below, people can still use Sling on their PC over 3G, the only thing stopping them is the rules and whatever penalties ATT have at their disposal.


Jake, don’t count on it. My work-provided AT&T aircard was blocked from accessing our corporate VPN. Again, why offer data services if they’re going to be so crippled?


This is the problem with the App store model. This would not have been an issue if one could install apps (and API/SDK) support independently e.g. in Windows Mobile.

While I like app store model for ease of use, I do not like control it gives to companies like Apple/ ATT, Google/TMobile.

BTW I am happy about this situation. I was early adopter with two mobile licenses ($60 on top of cost of the box) and they chose to give compatibility BS about support of old sling box for iPhone App. Now they want to support old Box thinking WiFi only will not bring as much revenue. Guess what? Sling lost!. I am moving on to different box (HAVA). There is no way I am going to support this company.


I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. No other platform suffers from this problem because no other platform is so severely limited. This is the price people pay when they buy from Apple – limited choice.

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