Feeds

Private profit from public investment?

More on the net neutrality debate

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Comment Even after living in America for seven years, I still get surprised by how polarised debate can be on some issues. I can well remember getting in a cab in Vegas and being taken on the freeway that runs along the back of the strip to my hotel. The cab driver launched into a tirade against the then president, and I felt that should I demur in any way I was likely to find myself turfed out on the freeway, possibly having ingested a little lead.

Right now there's a lot of shrieking going on in the US about net neutrality which, depending on your point of view, either means the end of freeloading by those who would perpetrate massive digital copyright theft, or the death of the first amendment of the Constitution.

My view is that it comes down to a very simple point. The incumbent operators have argued for a continuation of their monopoly profits from fixed line telephony on the basis of needing to invest in a new fibre infrastructure to deliver a universal (i.e. no matter where you live you can buy it) next generation digital service.

However, having been gifted the money to build out this infrastructure, they then want to be able to retain the right to privileged access to the bandwidth it enables, as opposed to simply earning money for looking after it (from access charges).

Surely there's a disconnect here. If you go to the markets with a sound business model and borrow money, you should be able to do what you like (within the law) with your asset, but if you use what is essentially a government tax through protected fixed line telephony charges, surely you should not.

One person has argued for the concept of "eminent domain", which we know here as compulsory purchase, but in effect, the network in question has already been paid for by the citizens of the United States in over 100 years of monopoly profits to the old AT&T and the RBOCs (and pretty much back again after all the mergers).

As QoS comes to the internet over the next few years, the question of traffic management is going to be an interesting one to watch. We've seen T-Mobile recently take the decision to ban VoIP and IM from its HSDPA network, the question of a carrier's ability to ban things it doesn't like, or do things that explicitly or implicitly sabotage applications will be a major factor in competitive markets.

Fortunately for us, in the UK we have a very healthy competitive environment. Vodafone has stated that it will not ban VoIP on its new 3G broadband HSDPA network, and in the fixed line space there are many telecom players taking advantage of Ofcom rulings to unbundle local "last mile" loops at BT exchanges to offer services directly to residential and business users from their own IP backbones. Hopefully we can avoid all the shrieking and let the market do its job. ®

David Perry is principal analyst at research firm Freeform Dynamics.

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
OECD lashes out at tax avoiding globocorps' location-flipping antics
You hear that, Amazon, Google, Microsoft et al?
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.