I’m seeing reports from people who opted for a Triple-play service from their phone companies. From what they’re saying, this is not a good omen for the future of the open Internet marketplace.
When you sign up for one of these services, you get a phone company supplied combination TV/phone/router box. It looks like the end user gets no control over or access to this box. And it further looks like it is performing various ‘service management’ on behalf of the user.
The bottom line is it looks like the services one can use with these Triple-play Internet services are limited to web browsing and email and maybe a few others. It appears to be a ‘browsing and email’ service, not an Internet service. It looks like users don’t even see their public IP address and cannot connect their own router or any device besides a PC.
Should they be allowed to call such a service ‘Internet’?
Can a "triple play" customer get a VPN connection out? And is there a contractual restriction on what you can and can’t use the connection for, or just technical?
As far as we can see, there are no explicit contractual restrictions, but the telcos always have the usual general disclaimers that let them essentially do (or block) whatever they want. In this case, I think it’s an almost accidental technical limit. The router is broken and the users don’t get access to it; nor can they replace it with a working router because it has the bundled triple-play functionality.
It’s not clear whether VPNs would work. It appears as though it would depend on the VPN technology. Many probably could be made to work.