Nº 10 2012 > Global Symposium for Regulators | Special report
Net neutrality: to regulate or not to regulate?
The session on net neutrality, moderated by Anusha Palpita, Director General of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka, asked whether traffic management should be regulated or left to commercial negotiations; how the use of new applications and services, in particular cloud computing services, is affecting networks and straining existing bandwidth; and how to strike a balance between consumer protection and fostering investment.
Malcom Webb, Partner at Webb Henderson, author of the GSR discussion paper on “Net neutrality: a regulatory perspective”, defined net neutrality as the principle that all electronic communication passing through a network is treated equally, independently of the content, application, service, device, sender address and receiver address. Blocking or throttling a rival’s content or applications requires an adequate regulatory response. Regulators should ensure competition among Internet Protocol (IP) service providers and require them to have transparent traffic management techniques.
Ivan Sanchez, Expert Commissioner of Colombia’s Comisión de Regulación de Comunicaciones, said that a new law on net neutrality in Colombia will cover principles of free access and non-discrimination among operators, but not all users will have the same right of access to networks. Operators will be able to offer packages according to user needs. However, if operators change their offer conditions, they will have to notify users, who will have the right to cancel their contract without incurring charges.
Pablo Pfost, Telefonica’s Director of corporate strategies and regulatory services, considers that the principle of net neutrality should be the same for fixed and mobile networks, even if the tools used for managing these networks are completely different.