open Internet

… and how it affects Net Neutrality.Hendrik Schulze at Webmontag

Having Internet is kind of a fundamental right in today’s world. Because the Internet is so important to us and at the same time still a relatively new and fast changing medium, it is widely discussed how to handle it. Net activists, companies and politicians try to strengthen their lobbies. As a company offering advanced network technology we are in the middle of this discussion. At least there is one thing of value that we can contribute: our technical view on things.

LanesbridgeSo, this is it? When I saw the news after the net neutrality discussion in Brussels the week before last, I was immensely relieved. Compared with the US – they are still in the middle of the net neutrality debate – Europe managed to find an acceptable compromise within a few months.

Following up on the net neutrality workshop organized by VATM earlier this year, in a second meeting last week there seemed to be some consensus among German operators that charging content providers for downstream traffic sent mostly from the United States through their networks to German subscribers, though an intriguing idea, will not work. And these subscribers will remain their main revenue source also in the near future. So what can ISPs do to counter the downward spiral of ever faster and cheaper flat rate plans?

Last week I participated in a meeting of the German Association of Telecommunications and Value-Added Service Providers (VATM), which got together to establish a net neutrality working group. The discussion pretty much reiterated the arguments that have been exchanged in the United States for quite some time now. So far this has not been a big topic in Germany or Europe outside of some expert and activist circles. To my knowledge, operators have pretty much ignored the net neutrality debate so far. And I am not entirely sure why that is — maybe because we are just lagging behind the US as in so many other cases, or because of a different attitude toward civil liberties. Either way, I certainly welcome a debate provided it involves all stakeholders: legislators, operators, civil rights activists and technology experts.

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