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by • 21/10/2014 • Internet, ThoughtComments (0)884

OTT: South Africa’s “Net Neutrality”

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past 2, or so, years, you will know about the whole net neutrality thing that is busy happening in America. I tried to sum it up in a quick one sentence breakdown:

Telephone companies in America are trying to get laws passed so that they can charge online content providers (anything from retail sites to online video streaming sites) fees to make providers’ sites faster on their networks to their users.

Currently this is not the case. The telephone companies just provide you with the service of connecting you to the network, which is the Internet. Online is a different system altogether, you pay for quantity of traffic and space, on online servers, as it all comes down to how much space things takes up when they get stored or transferred.

Now remember, the network is still running silently under the surface, like our water and electrical system does. The network must just make sure that they are connected to the rest of the network and that you can connect to them. They can and should be seen as basic services.

At this point you might say: “it’s working fine the way it is, it could be a little faster maybe..” That is exactly the problem that the telephone companies are currently facing. They used to have to only build the telephone network, replace wires when they broke, while raking in the money. Recently, for them, there is a constant demand for network upgrades to enable the increasing network speed demands. And I’m sure it’s costing a lot.

Don’t feel sad for the old telephone companies just yet. You pay for your line rental, then you pay for ADSL to be enabled on that line, and then you pay to remove the blocks of that so that you can get the network at a faster speed, and you also pay for any other services. Now think of every single person that is online around the world is paying a variation of that fee. So to be fair, they’re not exactly going to bed without food because of financial constraints. This is all just cutting into their astronomical profit margins.

The reason I felt the need to try and educate you a little about this is that this thing is busy sticking out it’s ugly head here in South Africa as well.

They were actually very clever about it and didn’t go with the American, well recognized, “net neutrality” and snuck it in under the term OTT which stands for “Over the top” content. The number one culprit at this point in the game is guy named Ahmad Farroukh and he is the boss guy over at MTN. He says that companies like WhatsApp or Skype (so by extension anyone, providing you with a service on your phone or computer) shouldn’t get a “free ride” on telephone networks. Sound familiar?

This will kill online innovation, which will kill the Internet in the long run, if we’re now careful. And if they manage to charge WhatsApp or Facebook to allow you to see it at proper speeds, why can’t they start charging your aunt who sells candles online?

At this point it’s mostly media fluff, but I think we need to be very aware of them trying to pass laws in the future. We also need to support the networks who doesn’t want to charge for things that doesn’t really concern them.

In my opinion telephone networks must just leave it the way it is. The Internet will get to a tipping point soon where there won’t be much need to go faster from a delivery point of view. Which means they won’t have to upgrade so rapidly anymore. If everyone on your network can have a solid 5gb connection, your job is pretty much done. Then it’s just back to maintenance.

What are your thoughts on this?

 

Some articles on this:
http://www.techcentral.co.za/mtn-boss-derides-ott-free-riders/51167/
http://www.techcentral.co.za/no-place-in-sa-for-dumb-pipes-vodacom/51883/

happy wheels

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