In America and Europe, the internet is going mobile out of convenience. In the developing world, mobile is the internet. Here’s what happens when companies take advantage of that.[…]
Chile’s telecommunications regulator, the Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones, recently imposed some short-term pain on some of the nation’s internet users, hoping to ensure a long-term gain: Chileans’ ability to make their own choices about how they want to use the internet. Mobile carriers had wanted to partner with giant internet services (including Facebook and Google) to offer what they call “zero-rating” connections: an increasingly common arrangement in which mobile phone customers got no-cost mobile data as long as they used those specific services. But the regulator instead insisted that Chile’s network neutrality law meant what it said, and nixed those arrangements. […]
The non-neutral mobile internet emerges from the assumption that mobile networks are so bandwidth-constrained that carriers must heavily tinker with what users can do and impose penurious data caps. So why do people in Finland pay a small fraction of the price for much more mobile bandwidth – which they use – than people in Germany, Spain and the US? It’s simple, according to persuasive research from a Helsinki consultancy, Rewheel: Finland has genuine competition not dominated by an dominant state-preferred (or owned) carrier. According to Rewheel, the dominant European carriers are trying to create a “digital OPEC” – a cartel designed to maintain high prices. […]
So I’m baffled that we’re framing network neutrality in such a constrained way. We definitely need to save it for our wired-line services. But if we ignore the ways in which mobile carriers are trying to create a new cartel of their own, we’ll be in even worse trouble.