Against ETNO and ITU Internet Access Regulation

Dean Bubley of Disruptive Analysis published an excellent and comprehensive argumentation against a redefinition of Internet regulation the way ETNO and ITU are considering it.

The ETNO proposal is ambiguous to say the least and fails to make a distinction between public Internet access on the one side and other managed Internet-like access services (IPTV and carrier VoIP to name a few) on the other side, he argues. We agree, and have argued earlier that the power of the access hub in the connected consumer ecosystem is diminishing as content and services are increasingly unbundled from access networks. We also argue that – rather than trying to hold on to a burning platform – operators should consider mixing and matching access, bundling, and content business models and roles for maximum competitive value.

Splitting the public Internet into two public Internets based on specific content QoS is a bad idea. Operators can launch a managed Internet-like access service should they wish to do so. Operators can – and already do – differentiate public Internet access services on speed and bandwidth caps, should they wish to do so. Operators can – and already do – launch OTT services, if they wish to do so.

If a second public Internet emerges that is only available on a “sender pays” principle, the exclusive cloud scenario that we described in our public cloud scenario will become more likely to occur and the EU ambition of unleashing the potential of cloud computing in Europe will be thwarted.

We agree with Disruptive Analysis that some simpler rules and premises will suffice for ITU and WCIT when considering Internet governance and regulation: In a nutshell:

  • Branded “Internet access” should be as neutral as possible.
  • Managed or “other” broadband access can be non-neutral, as long as it is not branded as “Internet”.
  • Certain hybrids are possible but must be closely watched for anti-competitive behaviour.

What is your opinion on Internet Access Regulation? Let us know!

Image via Reddit. Hit the link for the full image.

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About Pim Bilderbeek