Home / Blogs

Regulation as Innovation

Bill Smith

The European Telecommunications Network Operators' Association (ETNO) has issued a press release in which its Executive Board Chair and the ITU's Secretary-General "reiterated the importance of the WCIT to lay the framework that will facilitate the further growth of an innovative, and sustainable future for the telecom and information and communication technology sector (including the Internet)". It's good to know that the ITU will be hosting a Conference that will ensure an "innovative and sustainable future" Internet.

Presumably, invitations will be sent to those responsible for the current Internet that has proven incredibly innovative, extremely robust, and a significant growth area in an otherwise dismal world economy. In reality, that isn't likely.

Rather, it appears that we will ignore the evidence of a vibrant and growing Internet economy and instead face claims that there is a "need for a new eco-system for the Internet" based on an "economic model favouring innovation, openness and consumer choice". Fortunately, we already have innovation, openness, and consumer choice in the current Internet eco-system. What's missing?

ETNO would have us believe that user experience is at risk under the current economic model. This risk stems from the "strain on network resources" brought about by "growth in traffic" and that "end to end quality of service" agreements would encourage "innovation and improved user experience".

To address this user experience risk, ETNO has made an "innovative proposal" that would introduce a "sender pays model". It is unclear how this model would improve user experience but it would certainly alter the economics and operations of virtually every Internet participant (we all are senders). This would be a massive change and like all such changes, is extremely risky.

One might wonder how we would transition to this new economic model. ETNO's answer is through the tried and true method of the past century and a half — regulation. The vehicle for that regulation is the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs), the same Treaty Instrument that was modified 25 years ago to "liberalize" (read deregulate) the telecommunications industry. This liberalization led to, by the ITU's own admission, "the telecommunications revolution of the 1990s" and "new technologies such as mobile and the Internet".

If I have this right, the Internet's success was facilitated by liberalized telecommunications regulations. In order to preserve an open, innovative, non-prescriptive, vibrant, successful, and robust Internet, we must resort to regulation. If you're like me, the logic here is inescapable, if not understandable.

By Bill Smith, Sr. Policy Advisor, Technology Evangelist at PayPal. (Disclaimer: While I am a PayPal employee, the opinions expressed here are my own.)

Related topics: Internet Governance, Policy & Regulation, Telecom


Don't miss a thing – get the Weekly Wrap delivered to your inbox.


To post comments, please login or create an account.

Related Blogs

Related News

Explore Topics

Dig Deeper

Mobile Internet

Sponsored by Afilias Mobile & Web Services

DNS Security

Sponsored by Afilias

IP Addressing

Sponsored by Avenue4 LLC


Sponsored by Verisign

Promoted Posts

Buying or Selling IPv4 Addresses?

ACCELR/8 is a transformative IPv4 market solution developed by industry veterans Marc Lindsey and Janine Goodman that enables organizations buying or selling blocks as small as /20s to keep pace with the evolving demands of the market by applying processes that have delivered value for many of the largest market participants. more»

Industry Updates – Sponsored Posts

Leading Internet Associations Strengthen Cooperation

i2Coalition to Present Tucows CEO Elliot Noss With Internet Community Leadership Award

Michele Neylon Appointed Chair Elect of i2Coalition

2016 U.S. Election: An Internet Forecast

MarkMonitor Supports Brand Holders' Efforts Regarding .Feedback Registry

Dyn Weighs In On Whois

Season's Greetings - 2015 End of Year Message from DotConnectAfrica

"The Market Has No Morality" Sophia Bekele Speaks on Business Ethics and Accountability

Dyn Comments on ICG Proposal for IANA Transition

DotConnectAfrica on "CONNECTing the Dots: Options for Future Action" at UNESCO, Paris

IBCA Presentation to ICANN GAC on Protection of Geographic Names in New gTLDs

Season's Greetings - 2014 End of Year Message from DotConnectAfrica

Domain Name .Africa Faces Hurdles - Q&A with Sophia Bekele

Afilias Director Wins ICANN's 2014 Leadership Award

DotConnectAfrica Contributes at the 9th IGF in Istanbul, Turkey

Nominum Announces Future Ready DNS

Video Interviews from ICANN 50 in London

ICANN London Recap Webinar

DotConnectAfrica Delegates Attend the Kenya Internet Governance Forum

Neustar to Launch usTLD Stakeholder Council