Mobile 2.0 meets net neutrality

Posted on May 3, 2010  /  3 Comments

We’ve been saying that most people will reach the Internet through mobile platforms for some time. And for some time, our colleagues have been looking at us as though we have sunstroke. But we like to break new ground and know that skeptical looks are part of the package.

Now we have a powerful ally: the New York Times.

With the majority of Internet traffic expected to shift to congestion-prone mobile networks, there is growing debate on both sides of the Atlantic about whether operators of the networks should be allowed to treat Web users differently, based on the users’ consumption.

While we were researching the subject, we did not take a position on net neutrality, but we now agree that its blind application in our settings will harm our constituents, the teleusers at the bottom of the pyramid. We do agree with the statement below, also excerpted from the NYT:

But there is a big flaw in the concept, according to the operators: Networks have never been neutral. They have always been actively managed to some extent since their inception in the 1980s to ensure that all customers get a basic “best effort” level of service.

If an operator could not restrain bandwidth hogs, who typically make up 15 percent of customers but who generate 80 percent of the traffic, most Internet users would experience poor service.

While net neutrality is an emotion loaded minefield that is not the most hospitable for evidence based discussion, we are at least happy that the mobile piece of the argument is running parallel with ours.


  1. “While net neutrality is an emotion loaded minefield”…….This is exactly what this whole discussion about net neutrality is based upon…
    Realistically speaking, no technology or service can survive unless the investors are properly safe-guarded. One one hand, we admit that bandwidth is a scarce resource but on the other hand with concepts like net neutrality, we defy the logic of using it efficiently.
    I hope there is a thorough study on this by LIRNEasia.

  2. There is no clear description of net neutrality. However I would like to make a couple of points:
    1. shaping of traffic may be necessary some of the time if the network can’t handle the load. This doesn’t mean it should happen all the time
    2. prioritizing is best done based on objective measures. These objective measures should apply to all. It shouldn’t benefit facebook more than it does Myspace.
    3. Bandwidth is not a scarce resource. Time and money to invest in bandwidth to all end-users is. Efforts should be put in making sure that bandwidth is brought out to as many users as possible, so that they have to share as little as possible.
    4. Bandwidth hogs are hard to identify. studies in Japan have shown that a person being a bandwidth hog in one month can be a normal user the other month. Furthermore what constitutes a bandwidth hog is a local thing. Mobile phone users in India and Bangladesh call 2-4 times more than Western-European users in ie Netherlands and Germany. Does that mean that Indians and Bangladeshi’s should be described as mobile voice pigs?
    5. and I disagree with Waqas Hassan that investors should be safe guarded. Investors should know what they go into. They should be faced with clear rules for the future. These may require non-discrimination. However safe guards are often explained by investors as being guarantees against loosing money. If you invest, you take the risk of going bankrupt. This is the case for the lady who starts a small restaurant and it is similarly the case for the billionaire who wants a telecom network. Now if you put in a network and you underspecified its capabilities and you undercharged your customers, than that is your problem, not your customers. It would be the same as saying that it is unfair by the customer to use a taxi who drives a Mercedes and charges less than a busfare for a trip.