Dean Bubley: Net Neutrality – getting the right compromise: Focus on innovation!

InsightaaS: Dean Bubley is the founder of telecom consulting company Disruptive Analysis, which analyzes telco business models, and publisher of Dean Bubley’s Disruptive Wireless blog. We have visited Bubley’s thoughts on Net Neutrality before, and are pleased to check back in as Bubley readies a new report on the subject. In this post, he frames four key considerations – that uses objtain clear benefits from web-based applications, that the conditions exist to encourage continued innovation in applications and continued investment by telcos in networks, and that the internet continue to deliver economic and social benefits. As Bubley points out, “trying to “optimise” across all those separate constituencies is a tall order.” He suggests, though, that “regulators could allow specialised services, but only for ones which are not also available on the “open Internet”. In other words, specialised services should actually be “special”, and not just chunks of the existing Internet sold at a higher price,” and offers a dozen ways in which this approach could deliver net neutrality benefits.

I’m currently finishing a research report on new and “non-neutral” mobile broadband business models. When I started writing it, I hadn’t realise that it would coincide with such a huge period of industry turmoil, with the EU Connected Continent legislation going through the Parliament, and the US FCC reworking its rejected Net Neutrality rules and suggesting controversial alternatives. Add in various other national legislative initiatives, the recent Internet Governance shindig in Brazil, and it’s clear that a lot is going on, and it’s the right time to be looking afresh at this area.

A core part of the debate is around so-called “specialised services”, particularly involving either prioritised “fast lanes”, or perhaps just 3rd-party payments for data traffic instead of the end-user. (I’m also looking at other flavours of non-neutrality such as zero-rating and application-based charging, but they’re discussions for another day).

While I’ve got my own personal preferences and beliefs, I’m wary of confirmation bias and I’m looking at the broadband/Internet industry through the lens of “what compromises are right for the telecoms industry, consumers, the content/developer community & the broader economy/society“.
In other words, there needs to be:
Clear benefits for end-users (consumers & businesses) in terms of speed & reliability of both Internet connections and other non-Internet broadband use-cases (IPTV, VPNs etc)…

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