back to article India's ‘Facebook ruling’ is another nail in the coffin of the MNO model

Nobody could accuse India’s telecoms regulator, TRAI, of being in the operators’ pockets. This month it has, once again, set eye-watering reserve prices for the upcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction (see separate item), and now it has taken one of the toughest stances in the world on net neutrality, in effect banning zero rated or …

  1. nematoad Silver badge

    If only.

    "...it will be more akin to connecting someone to the electricity grid, just the base enabler of the real revenue model."

    I wish.

    For example a few years ago I was working in the Republic of Ireland but still kept my home in the UK. On coming back on holiday I was surprised by a bill from the water company. It was not large, only a matter of £30 or so. I got in contact with the company and complained. I said that the company had not provided me with any service as I was out of the country (we are on meters here) and that as they had given me nothing they should expect nothing in return. I was told in no uncertain terms that I was wrong, that they had the right to bill me and that the bill was for the "Standing charge". That is I had to pay them for the privilege of being connected to the mains whether I used any water or not.

    I suspect that these mobile operators will claim that being connected to their network should also involve a "Standing charge."

    1. John G Imrie

      Re: If only.

      I thought the included a 'line rental'

    2. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Re: If only.

      The charge is not just for water used. They charge you for water run off from your property that goes into sewage too unless you have a soakaway. Electricity and gas companies have standing charges too, they still have to pay for the infrastructure and those bits of which supply your property. I wouldn't say it was unreasonable of them to charge you.

    3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: If only.

      ...you'd read the contract before signing it.

      Every utility contract is like that. Usually it's a fixed standing charge combined with a variable charge based on consumption. Networks cost money to maintain. Water networks are relatively high maintainance due to hygienic standards that have to be met. That water from the tap enters your body - you wouldn't want, say, cholera with that.

    4. Fihart

      Re: If only.

      Had a slightly similar discussion with Thames Water about being charged water rates on a parking space I didn't use. Their response was that I was paying for drainage of rain that fell on the space !

      Logical, though I might have replied that as I didn't cause the rain to fall they should take that up with a higher authority.

  2. ratfox

    MNO is Mobile Network Operator

    In case somebody was wondering.

    1. Tromos
      Joke

      Re: MNO is Mobile Network Operator

      ...and ARPU is the guy that runs the local convenience store.

    2. More Jam

      Re: MNO is Mobile Network Operator

      I was wondering what that meant, thank you.

  3. Velv
    Boffin

    Walk before you can Run

    For centuries new "technologies" have been the preserve of the wealthy in their early days only to become everyday essentials and almost a human right.

    Transport is the best example I can think of. Carriage and horses were initially only for the wealthy who could afford to keep their own horses. Eventually hackney cabs came long and the general public could share in the occasional luxury journey, only to be replaced by buses, trains and cars that almost everyone can afford. The money laid the roads ultimately benefiting everyone.

    And so it was with mobile networks in the UK. Rich City wankers paid hundreds of pounds per month to build the core highways and services we now all share neutrality on.

    Net neutrality is a fine principle, but somebody has to pay for it. Walk before you can run. Let Facebook pay to build the network THEN enforce neutrality. It's worked for centuries, Adam Smith noted it, it's not perfect, but it keeps the momentum of development.

    1. Old Handle

      Re: Walk before you can Run

      I'm not sure how well your analogy holds up. Was there a time when roads were opened to the poor, but only if they traveled to specific destinations? If anything it seems like Facebook is trying to subvert the normal progression of availability you describe.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Walk before you can Run

        Yes, when you was a serf you weren't allowed to go wherever you liked. Also there were fees to pay even if you were a free man but you wanted to move across realms.

        That's what wannabe king Zuck would like to create, Facebook serfs allowed to live and move only in the Zuck's Internet realm.

        The "cyberworld" looks to be able to mimic perfectly what happend in the real one a few centuries ago. Let's see when digital heads will start to roll...

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Walk before you can Run

      Laboured analogy and mentioning Adam Smith - are you channeling Tim?

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Walk before you can Run

      Facebooks is trying to avoid to build the network, it's trying to piggyback on someone else but lure traffic only to its sites. Once users are accustomed to a certain definition of the "Internet", they won't look elsewhere easily - especially if they have to pay for it.

      I've seen it already in other sectors (i.e. TV broadcasts, newspapers web sites) - once users are used to a free service, no matter how bad it is, they won't switch to paid services easily (even if they can afford them without much trouble), even if the services has far better quality - thus if you control what the free services offer, you control what a lot of people see (and think).

  4. Panicnow

    Saved from fragmentation

    With having to have FreeView, Sky, BT et al to see all the video content, linking services to transport sucks!

    Ironically Net neutrality SAVES MNO s not kill them. Just that they have to charge economic rates for a commodity business.

  5. LDS Silver badge

    There's a difference between access providers and utility grids

    Utility grids usually charge you a connection fee and then bill you by use (although lately contracts with a fixed cost and a cap are becoming more common) - so they don't matter much if they are "invisible", they have a steady revenue stream (especially since sometimes you can't easily switch supplier) - and sometimes can easily increase prices (i.e. because oil goes up...). These are also end-to-end services, they are not a direct link to someone else lucrative business, water pipes don't let you access Coca Cola or Budweiser services, you may still need electricity to run your computer, but the provider may not care less about what you use power for, the more you use, the better.

    Internet acces providers have different issues. People are not keen on paying for data consumption, and are mostly used to fixed costs, usually without caps on fixed connections (ADLS, cable, etc.), although caps are still common for mobile ones. And competitive pressure makes difficult to increase prices (but for new, faster access technologies). It's not easy for them also to offer appealing premium services, because the Internet giants already offer them, which have already established worldwide brands and audience, difficult to make a dent into that offer.

    They risk to be left the breadcrumbs just selling cheap connections to someone else lucrative business - no surprise they look for some kind of alliance with FB, Google & C. to ensure some kind of revenue stream, who cares if customers rights are crippled?

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