Consumer Demand Solves “Net Neutrality”

by on May 18, 2006 · 8 comments

Ars points out how Skype plans to use, and has used, consumer demand to prevent being blocked by ISPs.

Skype’s battleplan is simple. If their user base is large enough, companies will think twice about tampering with Skype traffic. When Brazil’s biggest telecom pulled the plug on Skype, the outcry in the country was big enough that the decision was soon reversed. [The head of Skype's European operations, James] Bilefield said, “The community has the power to change things.”

If consumers want unfiltered Internet access, they’ll get it. Regulators, go away.

  • Barry

    How many competitors does Brazil’s largest telecom have? How easy is it to switch from them to another service provider, and how much competition is there in the basic telephone service market? Are we talking broadband or dialup?

    Those are key details that could make or break this story’s importance in terms of network neutrality in the US, because if switching your ISP in Brazil is as easy as changing your socks, then sure, Brazil’s largest telecom has something to worry about. But in the US, competition is minimal, as your choices for broadband are (a) your cable company and (b) your phone company, and both of those kinds of companies have a huge motivation to replace third-party VoIP or VoD services with their own offerings.

  • http://www.techdirt.com/ Mike Masnick

    I’m not a big fan of regulators stepping in here, but I don’t think this case is a very good example of why they should stay away. By this reasoning, only companies that are able to build up a big enough user list will be able to avoid being charged extra. That seriously hurts the opportunities for new entrants.

  • Barry

    How many competitors does Brazil’s largest telecom have? How easy is it to switch from them to another service provider, and how much competition is there in the basic telephone service market? Are we talking broadband or dialup?

    Those are key details that could make or break this story’s importance in terms of network neutrality in the US, because if switching your ISP in Brazil is as easy as changing your socks, then sure, Brazil’s largest telecom has something to worry about. But in the US, competition is minimal, as your choices for broadband are (a) your cable company and (b) your phone company, and both of those kinds of companies have a huge motivation to replace third-party VoIP or VoD services with their own offerings.

  • http://www.techdirt.com/ Mike Masnick

    I’m not a big fan of regulators stepping in here, but I don’t think this case is a very good example of why they should stay away. By this reasoning, only companies that are able to build up a big enough user list will be able to avoid being charged extra. That seriously hurts the opportunities for new entrants.

  • http://www.cato.org/people/harper.html Jim Harper

    When Skype campaigns (through consumers) for full throughput, do you think ISPs get the message “put through Skype” or do they get the message “consumers want clean Internet access”? I think it’s the latter, and I think that’s what consumers want – unless they don’t, in which case: What’s the problem?

  • http://www.cato.org/people/harper.html Jim Harper

    When Skype campaigns (through consumers) for full throughput, do you think ISPs get the message “put through Skype” or do they get the message “consumers want clean Internet access”? I think it’s the latter, and I think that’s what consumers want – unless they don’t, in which case: What’s the problem?

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