Demolition job on telcos’ argument against net neutrality
It would be wrong to let internet service providers charge content providers like Google, Netflix and iTunes for delivering content to customers, says Communications Chamber partner Rob Kenny.
In a point by point critique of a telco-commissioned AT Kearney paper, Kenny demolishes arguments telcos are using to persuade regulators and politicians to let them to charge content providers for delivery.
In doing so, he strengthens the argument for other countries to follow the Dutch and pass laws that guarantee net neutrality, in other words, that telcos should not discriminate between different types of traffic, and continue to use their “best efforts” to get the bits to their destination as fast as possible.
Kenny’s most telling line is a quotation from Gary Bachula of Internet2, a US non-profit consortium of government and academic network researchers intent on building the next generation internet.
Bachula told the US Senate in 2006, that, based on seven years’ experience of running advanced broadband networks for five million users, “… we seriously explored various ‘quality of service’ schemes, including having our engineers convene a quality of service working group. As it developed, though, all of our research and practical experience supported the conclusion that it was far more cost-effective to simply provide more bandwidth.”
In addition, Kenny points out that the top 10% of internet users are responsible for 55% of the traffic. Why charge content providers when users generate the traffic, he says.
Kenny also shows that peer to peer traffic represents more than 30% of internet traffic. Charging content providers without addressing file-sharing between users would be “incomplete”, he says.
Besides, large content providers use massive server farms close to users to improve customer experience. This lowers the impact on the telcos’ core network, reducing their claim that content providers are free-riding and should therefore be liable for charges.
Kenny’s critique supports evidence gathered by German consulting firm WiK Consult that showed the incumbent telcos will only invest in new infrastructure (eg fibre networks) where threatened with competition, mostly from cable TV operators.
Kenny shows that the support the AT Kerney report offers telcos is deeply flawed, and thinly disguises their determination to stave off competition, keep their monopoly over access to end users, keep prices high and the market inefficient.
Unless governments and regulators ignore these special pleadings, incumbent telcos are unlikely to play a meaningful role in achieving the ambitions set out in Europe’s Digital Agenda and, closer to home, Digital Britain (revised).