Net Neutrality Finger Pointing Continues

Though some view net neutrality as a myth, there's no denying its potential as an international headline-grabber.

Major industry players such as Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Orange (NYSE: FTE), and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) have been making the net neutrality news in recent months. (See TW Cable Slams Netflix's 'Super HD' Policy, Is This a Turning Point?, and Open Internet Groups Slap AT&T in the FaceTime.)

There's no doubt that operators, regulators, and consumers are using the concepts of a neutral Internet and fair usage for both corporate and political finger pointing. Net neutrality becomes harder to define as modern-day services become more complex and operators look to any means to increase their revenue and monetize the data that is flowing across their networks.

The debate is not just one-sided, as all parties involved are filing complaints against one another. And when regulators are slow or fail to react, the debate becomes even more heated.

In North America, OTT players such as Google and Netflix continue to be at the heart of the debate, as Google is now trying to block third-party devices and Netflix is making exceptions for its special HD service. At the same time, ESPN is also heating things up and is rumored to be in talks with various carriers about its content not counting toward data caps.

Meanwhile, AT&T has also pushed buttons with its blocking of certain Apple services on its shared data plans.

In Europe, the European Commission continues to make net neutrality announcements that are confusing and which cause outrage amongst the region's operators and informed consumer groups. (See EC Proposes the Connected Continent.)

These ongoing clashes prove that the notion of net neutrality is still very important to all those involved, and, as I note in my latest report, now is the time for regulators to adapt their rules in a way that accommodates modern services and pricing plans. (See "Net Neutrality: Recap of the Past Year.")

In turn, operators need to work around updated and newly defined regulations, keeping in mind how they will affect their network applications and operations such as packet shaping, provisioning, pricing, and billing, as well as their online charging, real-time mediation, network intelligence, security, and policy management.

— Sarah Wallace, Analyst, Heavy Reading

SarahW 10/9/2013 | 5:37:46 PM
Re: Do consumers know or care? I don't think consumers care until the corporate battles start to cause network blackouts etc. Then they care.
brookseven 10/8/2013 | 6:55:16 PM
Re: Do consumers know or care? Carol,

I don't think people care a lick until somebody tries to charge them.  

At that point, it will be on.  The 250 Gbyte wireline cap I am on has yet to be a problem.  If they are okay with that, I am okay as well.


Carol Wilson 10/8/2013 | 4:57:31 PM
Do consumers know or care? I haven't  heard a new net neutrality argument in years. The servcie models may get more complext but the arguments are the same. OTT content providers want open high-speed pipes and broadband ISPs - wireline and wireless - want to be able to create fast lanes for which someone - content provider or consumer - will pay more. 

It all comes down to that. 

I just wonder if consumers - not consumer groups but real consumers - know or understand that all this is about. I don't think they do. 
Cableco44 10/8/2013 | 2:46:11 PM
Re: "Net neutrality" definition problematic Two points, 1) we sucked in all the usage with network builds and flat-rated access lines for 20 years.  This to point that building out the infrastructure for things like LTE were conditional on the concept that we start finally monetizing Internet 1 (leaving Internet 2 and the new #3 alone).  2) now that we are in the mode of monetizing, marketing departments have taken over and it is "leave no money on the table". 

Not much more of a strategy than that.  Same as Google's limited and scoped search responses when IPO'ng.
brookseven 10/8/2013 | 12:12:05 PM
Re: "Net neutrality" definition problematic Well when it comes to money and lobbying there will be no end of Fear Uncertainty and Doubt aka FUD.

The whole point of FUD is to justify ones actions.  The "I can't invest because I don't know syndrom".

I think the carriers don't realize they are working to kill the golden goose.  They make lots of money from Internet Data.  Just not Google or Apple money.  But the investment models and return models are different.  They should not be judged the same!

ANON1245980384322 10/8/2013 | 11:04:39 AM
"Net neutrality" definition problematic  

"Net neutrality becomes harder to define as modern-day services become more complex".  

So even though adherents cannot agree to a single definition of net neutrality, ISPs are nonetheless supposed to remain in compliance with that fluid definition?  How crazy is that?
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