back to article EU Net Neutrality debate heats up as Tim Berners-Lee weighs in

It's hard to work up a good lump in the throat in sympathy for a bureaucrat, but staff at the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) probably need just a little: they're going to have to work through 400,000 submissions about Net Neutrality in the EU. Volker Sypli of German telco regulator BNetzA …

  1. Oengus

    Message to the Telcos - Be proactive

    because traffic growth keeps running ahead of investment in capacity.

    Then be proactive. Invest to get ahead of teh game and make that your point of distinction.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Message to the Telcos - Be proactive

      Infrastructure is a huge upfront cost while the RoI is iffy. "Extra infrastructure" doesn't really sell with customers, especially at the consumer end, plus the competition can weasel their way to stay competitive with those who actually plunk down. Unless there is an absolute truth in advertising law, that won't change.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Message to the Telcos - Be proactive

        And of course the business case is further eroded by restrictions on charging models like oh net neutrality and roaming ...

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Message to the Telcos - Be proactive

          And of course the business case is further eroded by restrictions on charging models like oh net neutrality and roaming ...

          T-Mobile's success would seem to debunk both of those objections.

          In an interview the T-Mobile CEO pointing out that by providing a flat-rate but limited bandwidth video offering they had been able to reduce peak usage while improving customer experience.

          Roaming charges are almost entirely synthetic and one of the purest examples of gouging by restrictive practice you can find. Sure, it's a nice little earner but it also actively discourages investment in backhaul or alternative providers.

          Some kind of traffic management (such as voice services over data) is inevitable and I personally dislike the term "net neutrality" as it obscures the issues. Licences are awarded for the infrastructure and/or spectrum and the right to offer data and voice services on them. Users pay for data and/or voice. Vertical integration which prioritises a company's own content offerings over those of others is basically breaching the terms of the licence. Technology and good CRM provide lots of ways to make a company's own offering attractive to users, but effective competition for content rights is probably the best solution.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is really so frustratingly simple. If I pay for the infrastructure, I decide how it's going to be used. If you pay, you decide. End of story, everyone happy. Bandwidth is not a god given right. Without a business case, there will be no investment. Destroy the business case, and you'll destroy the investment.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Spectrum, however, is a limited resource, with an absolute limit to its utility (Nyquist’s theorem). This puts the onus on the State to regulate it to ensure it's being used to best improve the lot of the people (under capitalism, there can be incentive to hoard, wait out the competition, and then monopolize).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Since when did state regulation ever improve anything for the people? You have quite a strong hidden assumption there, and I don't buy it. Unregulated leads to the better results in the long run, for most people. When the state regulates, it stifles innovation, and locks out smaller players and you end up with horrors such as the US weapons industry to give one example.

        By regulating spectrum, one thing is certain. Only big players will play, and consumers will pay more in the end. Not to mention of the fact that spectrum in that case, probably will be wasted.

        As for monopolies, that's a chimera. First of all, point me to one private company that has been having a long, lasting monopoly that didn't crumble in the end.

        Second, even if one such unlikely monopoly would exist, it would in the end be about as bad as the state, so at the very, unlikely worst, you would end up with a state, and since you do not fear the state, I guess you have nothing to lose by trying. ;)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Regulation may be incompetent, slow, and often gets captured by those it is supposed to regulate, but its virtually never worse than the gouging and underhand techniques we see from big businesses if they are given the slightest opportunity.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            The thing is... big businesses become big, in the majority of the cases, because they exploit regulation and cooperate profitably with states. Without states handing out favours to friends and family who run businesses, enabling them to grow far, far bigger than if they were acting on a free market, businesses would never become so big and powerful.

            Decentralization is key. Centralization of power, in the hands of the state, leads to corporations living off the state and being protected by the states regulations that lock out small businesses.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              But centralization is NATURAL, part of the human condition, and therefore inevitable. Put it this way. The Gilded Age got that way not because governments coddled big businesses but the other way around, because businesses got SO big they could stand OVER the governments and dictate terms or simply buy the governments out. Same today with transnational businesses like big oil. Why don't governments strip big oil subsidies? Because big oil threatens to pull out and take their revenues with them to other, more "friendly" countries. That brings up a turn of phrase: Better 10% of something than 100% of nothing.

              PS. As for regulation that WORKED, what about the US taking over the rail network during World War I and standardizing the rail gauges and so on, such that when World War II came around, they found they didn't have to do anything else to get the rail companies on board the war effort that time around?

        2. Adam 1

          > Since when did state regulation ever improve anything for the people? You have quite a strong hidden assumption there,

          Your implied assumption that it never improves anything for the people is much stronger than the OPs assumption.

          I think my life is improved by the regulations that prevent people dumping nasty chemicals into our rivers. I think my life is improved by regulations about how much NOx your diesel can spit out. Same for labeling of ingredients on food packaging. Same for the qualifications required to give medical advice or treatments. Same for building codes that guarantee the floor won't collapse if more than 3 people enter a room.

          For sure the governments can overstep and create unnecessary red tape, but there is no sensible argument to say they don't improve anything at all.

        3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          By regulating spectrum, one thing is certain. Only big players will play, and consumers will pay more in the end.

          This is complete bollocks. You seem to be equating regulation with auctioning. Countries like Sweden gave spectrum away for free but still regulate it. The success of Free in France show that, even where resources are leased, newcomers can still enter the market, you just have to include unbundling within the regulation.

        4. oiseau Silver badge
          FAIL

          Hmm ...

          Ah, yes: absolute nonsense.

    2. P. Lee Silver badge

      >This is really so frustratingly simple.

      Not really. The issue is that the carriers want to charge both the consumers and the suppliers. Who decides then?

      Net Neut is about making sure only the consumers pay and therefore only the consumers have a voice.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      If I pay for the infrastructure…

      What you create the land for cables to be laid or space through which to beam radio signals?

      Regulation is unavoidable and must come with conditions that encourage competition, innovation and investment. Just handing it out without conditions will create inefficient monopolies.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tim-Berners is a really weird first name.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Tim-Berners is a really weird first name.

      I thought it was a type of wood-fired stove. If not, it should be.

  4. ENS

    Oh Canada!

    If you want to see how this will work with Market Forces only, perhaps take a look at Canada, where around 20-30% of the population struggle to get affordable internet access. When government efforts on both sides of the Atlantic are aimed at connecting (most) citizens at 3-5Mbps, what hope do we have of market forces creating 1Gbps fibre everywhere to support 5G?

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/07/12/keep_the_pressure_on_the_telcos_canada/

    Of course governments can invest in 5G with favourable regulatory regimes/spectrum awards etc, but they need to look at the RoI too.

    Where are the government surveys showing the net gain to society if 95% of fender-benders can be eliminated with autonomous cars, adaptive traffic management etc? Where is the TCO analysis of cars running nose to tail at 90Mph, and requiring $10Bs less investment in new asphalt, concrete and steel for road-building? But Telcos are not going to put in the fibre and cellular infrastructure to support this unless they know where their revenue stream is coming from.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why don't they use the standard business model for any infrastructure?

    Get people to invest in infrastructure.

    Build infrastructure.

    Company that built infrastructure goes to the wall.

    Infrastructure sold at a discount rate to business friends of initial company.

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