End of nationally authorized Internet Services Providers?

Posted on January 26, 2015  /  1 Comments

The conventional telcos were complaining that the Googles and the Facebooks of the world (labeled by them as Over-the-Top or OTT players) were unfairly getting a free ride on the expensive, difficult-to-maintain last mile access network. Bharti Airtel went as far as unilaterally seeking to identify such uses by their customers and to impose additional charges on them. They backed off in the face of widespread protests, but they said that they expected the regulator to “level the playing field.”

Now it looks like their complaints may be getting a response from a different quarter. If the Googles and the Facebooks of the world provide connectivity directly to their users, the old boys will have nothing to complain about. For Google et al., it’s the extension of the strategy of improving the quality of connectivity that they were trying to do by investing in undersea cables and medium-orbit satellites. It will also free them of threats from the conventional last-mile providers. The real losers will the the national governments who will lose the ability to extract money from providers and users and will not find it that easy to cut off their citizens from content they do not like.

“If you’re a big Internet company, you don’t want to have to deal with every cable company, every telco, that are potentially or actually trying to interfere with your freedom to do business,” said Steve Jurvetson, a founder and partner at Draper Fisher Jurvetson, a Menlo Park, Calif., venture capital firm. He is on the boards of both SpaceX and Planet Labs.

This idea of sky-high Internet connections seems to be a fixture of technology booms. In the mid-1990s, there were similar efforts. One, called Sky Station, was a sort of stratospheric blimp that would hover over areas that needed broadband Internet service. It was not successful, mostly because there was not much demand for the high-speed access it could provide, said Martine Rothblatt, inventor of the satellite service SiriusXM who was a Sky Station partner and is now chief executive of United Therapeutics, a biotechnology company.

“Twenty years ago, when people were like really happy to get a phone call on a mobile phone, it was inconceivable that most people’s television platform would be their mobile” device, Ms. Rothblatt said.

Today, Ms. Rothblatt added, the demand for bandwidth is “essentially insatiable.”


I could rewrite http://lirneasia.net/2014/05/a-net-neutrality-parable/, I guess.

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