Internet governance talk

Here’s another interesting talk debate at  re:publica 2013 about what is the right economic model for our global Internet infrastructure.

It’s basically about giving the highest available bandwidth at the lowest cost for the people.

But the talk is not only about what ISPs do. There’s another important player on the Internet.  That is the world of the IXPs. And the establishment of those IXPs can impact national Networks big time. Only when internet exchanges are neutral, they become a success factor both economically as well as in securing the free, open exchange of information worldwide.

But in order to create a neutral, non monopolistic and non-government controlled IXP in a given political environment, the right conditions need to be in place.

Securing the future of the Internet is a very complex matter. Initially it seems a technical matter, but it’s not. Five percent towards creating neutral exchanges is about technical stuff. Almost 95% is political. It’s about regulation that touches real people’s lives. And you have to work with the government to make it work: to provide Internet to the people at the right cost, stable bandwidth, with no room for censorship and net neutrality. It’s about giving consumer options and allowing people to talk with their money and vote with their feet, as Jillian York explains. It’s what the folks over at Electronic Frontier Foundation are fighting for. Also the Internet roots have to be open for competition. These are the IXPs. It’s cooperation between IXPs and competition between ISPs.

Later on in the talk, they discuss maturity models for Internet exchanges. It begins with an IXP as a government-owned entity. But as the Internet grows bigger and the entity touches millions of lives, the government cannot do things fast anymore. A next step would be onwards to a federation of ISPs, both public and private, who all have a vested interest to work under laws and regulations and should have government representative as data rentention regulations and security laws change.
But then of course it all depends on the given political context. In Tunesia, the IP transit service providers worked under the umbrella of a cosortium. They moved to different shareholders when the market got opened up. As a result, capital got restructured too.  And in this case, maybe a government representative would not keep things as neutral as one would like. Internet is still very expensive there and the quality of service is not at the same level as for instance in Europe. The conditions are simply different. Again, it’s a complex matter. In overall, really successful ISPs, as Klaus Landefeld explains, are typically run by not-for-profit company. Maybe that model indeed is economically viable.
Finally transparency is a topic. Perhaps the Internet and also its governing authorities should be like an open innovation lab. I see some analogy here in the different way Apple and Google do innovation. Google says wisdom of the crowd is unbeatable. Nothing beats millions of people complaining. Google releases products when they are still not finished. It’s all very transparent. Apple on the other hand does everything behind closed doors. It’s a much more controlled environment. They only release products when they are ready for consumption.
Worth watching as it is about your future too.

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