The pending parliamentary debate in the Netherlands on how to frame “netneutrality” in law has led to interesting reactions. Vodafone topped the bill with heavy handed statements (ISP’s must be able to install copyright filters, block sites and applications, Vodafone will fight this type of legislation at EU-level) that immediately led to “Vodafone is EVIL” reactions.
The old mantra of “telco must be able to get a negotiation position to force application providers like Google to pay for the use of expensive pipes” is repeated again and again. Which is not only a financially silly statement (subscribers pay enough to cover costs and profit, application providers pay already for the bandwidth and dataflow they cause, the cashflow of application providers is way too small compared to telco’s), but in other sectors this would be considered extortion. Like trying to force electrical appliance makers to pay extra to the grid owners because they cause so much electrical traffic.
In Parliament a rift is seen between the proponents of uncompromised net-neutrality provisions (nothing else is allowed) and proponents of net-neutrality with the possibility to differentiate to get a wider range of options (cheaper) for consumers. For instance for someone who does not want to use VOIP over Internet on mobile devices, only wants to use it to check mail, surf the web, do social media.
Unfortunately this has become a partisan issue which may hurt the progress of practical lawmaking that gets us forward.
So here is my solution to bridge that gap:
- Enforce that unfiltered open full net-neutral Internet access is always offered for every offered combination of speed and data cap (if applicable), by every provider
- Allow the provider to differentiate from that standard, by blocking certain types of applications (like VOIP)
- Forbid protectionist differentiation where one or a specific list of applications (brands) is blocked to keep a more profitable applications alive
The standard unabridged access may be more expensive, but the transparancy on pricing and comparison between differentiated packages (provided there is enough competition) will keep everybody in check.