Research Notes

The net neutrality debate will explode in the coming months. Many telecom operators are not prepared

Here are the 30 arguments that proponents of net neutrality will use in the debate.

The net neutrality debate as measured by the number of articles and tweets has been is growing steadily over the past few weeks. Strand Consult has followed this topic for years and observes that many operators are not prepared to participate in this debate where they play a central role. The report Understanding Net Neutrality and Stakeholders’ Arguments investigates the challenges facing the telecom industry and reviews what has happened and what will likely happen in a number of countries on this issue.

The debate in Europe is gaining momentum as EU Parliamentarians, national regulators and net neutrality activists take their positions. In the US, the decision of the courtcase between an operator and the national regulator will likely to be announced in a few weeks. Whatever the outcome it will influence the net neutrality debate in Europe and other parts of the world.

Net neutrality is a complex topic not only from an engineering standpoint, but for the many commercial, political and ideological interests that will go to war for high financial stakes. Strand Consult has analyzed this debate and its stakeholders and presents the 30 arguments that net neutrality supporters will likely use to further their position. The 30 arguments are:

1. Neutrality (or “openness”) is an original, deliberate, and essential feature of the internet.
2. The end to end principle is responsible for internet innovation.
3. Zero is a fair price for content delivery, and it was established early in the development of the commercial internet.
4. The internet needs regulation to keep it neutral and to preserve its many fine features.
5. Net neutrality is common carriage.
6. Net neutrality is free speech.
7. Without net neutrality there will be no innovation.
8. Without net neutrality there will be no democracy
9. Operators’ networks consist of smart edges and a dumb core. The operator’s job is to deliver the bits.
10. The internet is a human right.
11. The internet is a public good and therefore should be regulated like a utility. Internet service should be free, meaning subsidized by the government.
12. All content is equal or a bit is a bit is a bit.
13. Consumers value all content the same, and more content is better.
14. There should be the same internet available on every device.
15. Applications don’t create traffic; users create traffic.
16. The leaders of the net neutrality movement have good and right on their side.
17. Consumers care about net neutrality, and the net neutrality activists are their voice.
18. Net neutrality is needed because of vertical integration in the market for content and internet access.
19. There is a lot of evidence proving that network management practices harm customers.
20. Operators want to harm their customers, and only preventive measures will keep them in check.
21. Operators want to block or throttle competing services.
22. Operators want to use price discriminate to exploit their customers.
23. Operators want to make agreements to preference certain content on the web.
24. Operators will use pricing to create fast lanes and dirt roads for internet access.
25. Operators will use deep packet inspection to exploit their customers.
26. Operators only invest because of the growth in applications and content.
27. Operators should just build infrastructure, and more infrastructure is better.
28. Operators have always invested in infrastructure, and they always will.
29. All broadband providers, whether cable or telco, should be classified as common carriers and their obligations increased.
30. Net neutrality is a human rights issue, not an economic issue.

The big question for many politicians, regulators, interest groups and especially telecom operators, is whether there is need for net neutrality regulation, or whether existing statues for competition, antitrust and human rights are adequate to address the issues raised and any violations that should result.

Strand Consult has evaluated these 30 arguments along with their derivation, evidence, and academic theory. It has also evaluated the counter arguments from the same perspectives. The analysis and conclusions are contained in the report Understanding Net Neutrality and Stakeholders’ Arguments. This report, over 240 pages of vital information, is essential knowledge for telecom operators participate in the debate on net neutrality. To order the report, contact Strand Consult.

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