Helani Galpaya asks the most basic question in a Council on Foreign Relations blog. She bases her position on evidence from the field: her direct observations in Java that went around the world and the recent Myanmar baseline Teleuse study.
In the end, the best defense against the possible downsides of ZR is high levels of competition at all parts of the broadband value chain—content, application, devices, international connectivity—not just in retail mobile connectivity. Given the low capacity of many regulatory institutions in Asia, it probably makes sense for regulators to focus on creating a competitive environment and let the ZR battle play out, while being ready to act if actual harm occurs. If regulators insist on acting to enforce net neutrality policies, they could take other actions, such as making ZR offerings time-limited or mandating the first click outside of the walled garden also be zero-rated. Banning ZR products outright could leave millions of the poorest disconnected with no actual benefit. What’s the point of net neutrality if nobody is online?
Let the fun begin.