[governance] Draft statement on Nairobi meeting programme

Roland Perry roland at internetpolicyagency.com
Sat Jan 22 06:56:26 EST 2011

In message <E09009D3-015C-44D5-9761-F897BF39CE8E at ciroap.org>, at 
19:14:11 on Sat, 22 Jan 2011, Jeremy Malcolm <jeremy at ciroap.org> writes

>Should different rules apply for mobile and wired Internet networks? 
> If so, how can communications rights and Access to Knowledge be 
>preserved for those users, in order to avoid an ongoing information 

I recall debates (in the UK) about fifteen years ago where the theme was 
wanting "freephone" or "800" access to ISP modem banks on the grounds 
that paying around five dollars[1] an hour for a regular phone call was 
some kind of infringement of a right to free expression.

No-one was able to explain how the dial-up telephone infrastructure 
which is required to support [what eventually became at some times of 
day the biggest user of the telephone network] was to be paid for.

Eventually a compromise of paying at "local call" cost of perhaps 2 
cents a minute, despite the calls often being long distance, was arrived 
at. Then ten years ago cable and ADSL happened, and people forgot the 
charging aspects of dial-up Internet, along with forgetting the 
restricted bandwidth.

Now history is repeating itself with 3G data (very few people even 
expected to use 2/2.5G data for more than email). Carriers who 
over-generously offered "unlimited" plans of perhaps one to three 
Gigabytes a month for thirty dollars (which includes handset rental and 
voice calls) find their networks choked by people downloading streaming 
video, and try to invoke caps [limits] typically in the region of half a 
Gigabyte a month. Which would be several year's worth of email, even for 
a prolific user such as myself.

For those using 3G 'dongles' rather than phones, a cost of around 
fifteen dollars per Gigabyte is typical (there are no "unlimited" plans 
that I'm aware of). But that's a lot of money to watch a movie (one 
Gigabyte is a quarter of a DVD), when it's been estimated that 
mainstream ADSL costs the ISPs about 20 cents per hour for TV-quality 

So this is not about Network Neutrality, but "Local Loop neutrality", 
where end users are in denial about the varying costs of telecoms 
provision *of that last mile*, be it by GSM, ADSL or whatever. The 
previous thousand miles will cost much the same irrespective of the 
technology of the local loop.

If your network delivers content mainly to mobile users, it makes sense 
to try to gather some of the necessary extra revenue at the inbound edge 
(and leave the publisher to offset that by the income generation in his 
own business plan), rather than handing out an indefinite "free lunch".

Of course, if users are happy to express their freedom in ways other 
than downloading movies all day, there isn't a problem.

[1] I use USA money as it's more recognisable.
Roland Perry
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