EBU opposes new Internet pricing model

The EBU had drawn its lines in the sand ready for the World Conference on International Telecommunications(WCIT) taking place in Dubai, Dec. 3-14.

The EBU is opposing two major changes to the international operation of the Internet proposed by the European Telecommunications Network Operators' Association (ETNO), over quality of service and over who pays for end to end transmissions.

ETNO wants telecom regulators to recognize “end-to-end quality” of service delivery as a new and separate Internet service category alongside the existing “best-effort delivery." ETNO also wants to move to a new pricing scheme where network operators that “send” content pay those that “receive” it — the “sender pays” principle.

Current WICT regulations governing international Internet operation have been in place since 1988, well before the time it gained widespread public or even business use. This has led to the current situation where Internet traffic flows through unregulated voluntary transit/peering arrangements between ISPs where the receiving network operator does not get wholesale payments for terminating traffic, and therefore, in effect, contributes to each end-to-end session. ETNO believes this model needs revision given the huge volumes of traffic that now flow through this transit/peering architecture.

However, the EBU is arguing that the proposed changes would undermine the current flexible nature of the Internet, as well as disrupt citizens’ access to content and hamper innovation that comes from its openness.

EBU Director General Ingrid Deltenre insisted that access to an open Internet should remain a right and not a privilege, adding: “The open Internet is a driver of innovation, freedom of expression and plurality of information. We call upon ITU member states to oppose any changes which would seriously affect the current, healthy dynamism of the Internet.”

This line has been supported by the European Parliament, which passed a resolution on Nov. 22 calling on EU member states to prevent changes to the International Telecommunication Regulations that would impair the openness of the Internet, net neutrality and freedom of expression — three issues high on the EBU’s agenda.

“We would echo the European Parliament’s strong political signal that the Internet must remain a truly public space where fundamental freedoms, net neutrality principles and entrepreneurship are protected," said Deltenre.

She also welcomed a statement issued by the European Body of Telecom Regulators(BEREC) of firm support for preserving the open Internet.

Nevertheless, the EBU stance on end-to-end service delivery does divide European operators, although it may just come down to semantics. The question is over how to ensure high quality of service for premium video delivered via IP. This may or may not involve the open Internet, and in practice it looks like premium video will be delivered over CDNs and dedicated infrastructures connecting straight to the access network or even all to the way to the consumer’s home.