The ETNO’s WCIT proposals are not as bad as some say
Posted by Internet Society - Bulgaria on October 10, 2012
Many people have criticised the ETNO’s proposals for the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), arguing that these would significantly damage net neutrality. These criticisms are not entirely correct – because ETNO’s proposals are far worse. ETNO’s proposals would squeeze every ounce of innovation and competition out of global Internet networks. Goodbye Internet, hello Minitel.
The concept sounds quite friendly and just a little esoteric: “Sending party pays” (SPP). That sounds fair, until you realise that the sending party already pays. It sounds fair until you realise that SPP has always been the principle in the mobile world, and the result of this principle is tens of billions of Euro wasted by citizens on untransparent, unjustified and, frequently, unjustifiable charges. Years of regulatory action has finally led to the most egregious of these problems finally being solved in Europe.
And, by the way, in case you haven’t noticed : in the world of the Internet today, the receiving party also pays – and have always paid. Each of the Internet users connects, using some local Internet Service Provider (ISP), and he or she pays to get access to the network. In other words, hiding behind some “new” proposals, are just the old failed policies of the former monopoly operators, who perhaps feel desperate to find a business model, in which they make money with no investments. And a model, which resembles as close as possible the old, analogue telephone systems model.
In 2008, despite over a decade of liberalisation, the International Telecommunications Users Group calculated that European citizens were wasting ten billion Euro per year in “spurious” mobile termination rates (MTRs). It seems surprising that this could happen in a liberalised market, but there is a reason for this, namely that termination rates generally react to competition like a drug-resistent superbug reacts to antibiotics: with indifference.
ETNO, however, tries to show some modern thinking, and claims that there is a need for QoS (Quality of Service) among the Internet users. However, there are no economic calculations that prove their case; in fact the users know that the Internet is as affordable as it is, because there’s no guarantee of the QoS. And the users, strangely to ETNO, seem to like this. The success of the Internet is because the “end to end” and “net neutrality” principles keep the Internet open and competitive. Experimenting with this core element of the Internet’s global success in search of a business model for increasing the profits of a few companies seems reckless, to say the least.
Reckless experimentation – in the pursuit of profit – with the functioning of the global internet are ETNO’s proposals to the ITU WCIT. So, don’t believe ETNO’s critics, they don’t understand just how bad ETNO’s proposals really are.
Case summary T-Mobile/Truphone (as a possible example of the dangers of experimentation in this policy area)
EU regulatory action on MTRs
(Contribution by Dimitar Ganchev, member of the Board, Internet Society – Bulgaria and Joe McNamee, EDRi)