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European Telcos Feebly Try to Justify ITU Cash Grab
Imposing Ridiculous Tolls Will 'Establish New Balance'
by Karl Bode 08:39AM Monday Dec 03 2012
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.

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Charleston, SC

1 recommendation


ITU is one of the reason's it's stupidly expensive to make international phone calls when it should be essentially free from a competitive standpoint.

Fremont, OH

Re: meh

The ITU made it possible to call internationally. But while some providers charge a crap load to call outside of the country, other providers are dirt cheap and even free. If you pay more than most others, then its time to shop around.

Washington, DC
It's pretty bad, I forgot to turn off my cell phone and was paying $4 per minute for the call I took. Google Voice and Skype all the way

Fremont, OH

Re: meh

how do you forget to shut your phone off??? the phone should have hung up when the other party did.

Tuscaloosa, AL

Easy solution

This "problem" has a ridiculously easy solution: the content providers can simply say that they won't pay. At that point, the only thing that the telcos can do is block access to those sites, and we all know how well that'll work out with customers.

I don't get all the hand-wringing with this. Just call their bluff.

Lavalette, WV

Re: Easy solution

Agreed. It's basically a guarantee that the telcos will blink. After all, no one wants to lose consumers, and calling their bluff like this would affect all telcos.

Ergo, no matter what the telcos would have to blink, since you can't just switch to a carrier that doesn't impose this idea and get around the block.
Space Elf
Mullica Hill, NJ
right on the money.

if an ISP blocked Google over not paying their protection racket that ISP would lose customers at an astounding rate.
[65 Arcanist]Filan(High Elf) Zone: Broadband Reports

Fremont, OH

Re: Easy solution

One would have to assume you could get another ISP.

united state
IF the ISPS can convince the UN to takeover the internet and make this legal there is nothing the content providers could do.

Tuscaloosa, AL

Re: Easy solution

Except that the UN has no power to take over anything. The UN and ITU can say anything they want, but they can't create regulations. Only national governments can do that through treaties and supporting legislation, and there seems to be little support for anything like this outside the UN.

I think this is one of those situations where those who support this junk are making as much noise as they can to hopefully cause everyone else to forget that there's nothing substantial behind any of it. It's all just bluster, and I've observed that, the more of that that you see, the less substance there is to back it up.

Yorkville, IL

ITU History Lesson

The ITU has been around in various forms for over a 100 years and has contributed to the standards that made the telegraph and the telephone work world-wide. Aside from setting standards for modems (the fax and data kind for phone lines), they've largely been pushed to the curb by the internet. I think they see themselves as setting standards for buggy whips in the automotive age and don't like their prospects. Setting themselves up as toll collectors for the many governments who still view international communication as a way to raise money without offending the locals preserves some role for the ITU in the 21st century.