Walled garden

In media and telecoms, a walled garden exists when a communications service provides access to content that is restricted to a communications providers' own content. It does not allow customers to access content from third parties unless they have made an arrangement with the provider (usually paying for the privilege). Walled gardens are the opposite of open networks such as the internet.

The internet killed many walled garden services. A few internet service providers have a limited amount of success in directing subscribers to their own services. Most attempts to set up walled garden services in this space after the advent of the internet have failed.

Walled gardens continue to flourish in television (e.g. satellite and cable services), albeit subject to regulatory control. They also survive in high value niches such as financial data (e.g., Reuters and Bloomberg terminals).

Telecoms companies (both mobile and fixed) are attempting to set up walled garden services for the delivery of multimedia content (films and music in particular). History suggests that they will fail, and trying to sell such services to customers now accustomed to the free access the internet gives them can only be more difficult than in the past. However, much depends on the attitudes of regulators.