Mobile execs want to rip up net neutrality
More than half of mobile executives want to tear up the concept of net neutrality.
A survey of international mobile executives found that 55% believed networks should be allowed to charge content owners to prioritise their data traffic.
The survey, conducted on the behalf of law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, is yet another sign that the mobile industry wants to ditch the concept of treating all traffic streams equally.
The attitude mirrors recent proposals from Verizon and Google, which suggested that “carriers should be able to make private arrangements with service and application providers to let them offer differentiated services outside of the public internet”.
However, the legal firm admits that there will be regulatory hurdles to overcome before mobile networks could start discriminating between different types of traffic. “There’s a lack of clarity on how regularity bodies might handle that,” said Natasha Good, a partner with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. “The survey repsonses indicate that the greater the bandwidth used by a particular app or user, that’s when it would merit a different fee structure. [Traffic] prioritisation is likely to be looked at very closely by regulators.”
The survey also indicates that mobile networks are desperate to take a slice of the growing appetite for apps and video content. App downloads are likely to be the biggest source of revenue for mobile networks within three years, the survey’s respondents claimed, with video and mobile payments also in the top five money earners.
No more unlimited data
Consequently, the days of “unlimited” data deals will come to an abrupt end. Almost half of the respondents agreed that “all you can eat” data pricing had harmed mobile networks’ ability to increase data revenues, and 55% believed that tiered data pricing was the way forward.
“When you ask consumers to change the way of charging for consumption, there can be challenges,” admits Good. “It’s not the first time a business model has been forced to grow up. I guess it does seem like the dark ages [of dial-up internet] when we were paying for what we consumed when we were plugged into a phone line.”
Both O2 and Orange have recently scrapped “unlimited” data plans on the iPhone, as the networks try and wring more money out of heavy data users.