I've noted that while a lot of the talk of the UN "taking over the Internet" is American business interest hyperbole
, international telcos have been using the upcoming talks about Internet governance to push the international telco dream of forcing content companies to subsidize network builds
. It's a cash grab by government-pampered monopolists, plain and simple.
The idea that content providers should pay a troll toll just because
was first floated by former AT&T CEO Ed Whitacre in 2005
, and it has slowly infected the telco monopoly mindset globally. European Telecommunications Network Operators (ENTO), a coalition of European telcos, has been trying to justifying their dream of charging ridiculous unnecessary tolls in the media ahead of the upcoming ITU meeting. CNET
is running a nice example of the flowery language used to support this absurd idea, the ENTO insisting they won't be able to invest in networks if the ITU doesn't force content companies to pay a completely unnecessary toll to "establish a new balance." At the same time, of course, they're arguing that nothing will change:
The problem is that we want more choice. In the end, the customer will have more choice. It's like if you travel in economy. But why don't you also allow business class, a premium class, to differentiate the service? There is more choice. The customer decides what is better for him. In any case, we'll not touch the Internet. Nothing will change. We'll just add new services that will be done with better quality.
While the language is vague and flowery enough not to offend, the argument is the same as we've seen here in the United States surrounding the net neutrality debate: telcos, justly fearing eroding power in an evolving market, want content companies to pay new fees for prioritized access. It allows lazy telcos to force somebody else to pay for network upgrades, while giving them new power in a market where they're being relegated to dumb pipe status. It's a dumb and potentially dangerous idea, roundly criticized as a dumb idea, made dumber by the fact European telcos are trying to expand ITU authority in order to accomplish it.