Ovum comments: The FCC moves a step closer to regulating the Internet
Matthew Howett, Practice Leader of Ovum's Telecoms Regulation team, has the following comments:
"Go back a year, and it's almost inconceivable we would be in a position where effectively both Europe and the US appear to have swapped sides. Before Europe's Connected Continent package was unveiled last September, most national regulator's appeared comfortable with allowing carriers to experiment with new business models on the assumption that strong competition at the retail level between ISPs would prevent more serious forms of discrimination and blocking from taking place. Whereas in the US, the FCC has fought hard for over a decade to enshrine the principle of treating all traffic equally, with little room for manoeuvre.
"Following both today's vote in the US, and a recent vote in Europe, on the face of it things couldn't appear more different. The EC's Open Internet proposals, as they stand, come down heavily on the side of treating everything equally, to the extent that in their current form may actually be unworkable, and in the US the possibility of 'fast lanes' remains a distinct possibility, despite the proposals having evolved from a more controversial stance leaked in the days prior. In reality the truth is somewhere in between. Both legislative attempts leave open the possibility of prioritisation, but on the assumption that the 'basic lane' remains unaffected in an attempt to avoid a situation of 'haves' and 'have-nots'.
"Over the next few months on both sides of the pond, the devil will be in the detail. In the US, it's about what can be considered "commercially reasonable", similarly in Europe, it's about what can be considered a "specialized service". While lobbying efforts this week have been extensive and well publicized, in many ways today marks only the beginning of a much more intense period of public persuasion."
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