In the last leg to the decision on net neutrality the EBU together with a number of other organizations are pleading for a narrow interpretation of the term “specialized services” which are supposed to be exempt from net neutrality rules. The fear being that video and other high bandwith and/or QOS sensitive services would in practice be owned by the network provider rather than the service provider. Also in its open letter, the EBU pleads for serious (non-discriminatory) criteria to be applied on network throttling.
The previous commissioner Nelie Kroes paved the way for the present compromise, being mostly led by the argument that bundling of specialized services to the network allows for more investment since there is a more immediate return on investment for network companies. But whether this is a valid argument for TV (and also many other “demanding” services we have today) can be questioned. For TV there are dedicated networks that are more efficient for mass-audience broadcast distribution. So given the existence of these networks, why make another exception for the internet. And the internet seems to be doing well carrying more and more TV services without specialized network services.
A service that has reportedly been impeded regularly by network operators is Skype. Microsoft is one of the co-supporters of the letter. Another services that was blocked in the past was Whatsapp. Now text services are (practically) free, be it Whatsapp or SMS; which is what they should have been given their cost structure. What is a reasonable the network investment argument for blocking Whatsapp and charging so much for SMS and voice calls if that is not where the cost of the new cellphone networks is. In any market with decently working competition such services should be nearer cost price rather than “value” (marketeer’s term for maximum price someone is willing to pay).