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Monday, November 16, 2015

Further remarks on 'not neutrality' at #IGF2015: Ofcom, BEREC, WIK

From the transcript Q&A (cleaned up):
"I want to say something about the fact that when we talk about mobile and the threats to SMS messaging, revenues from WhatsApp and other services, albeit it's not clear if WhatsApp will remain legal in the U.K. if our current legislative proposal goes through. 
It is really interesting when you look at the history of public WiFi and the development in 2002-2003 and going forward, the kind of regulatory problems that did emerge which we just talked about, to some extent treating WiFi as an equivalent to Telecoms. I think that was a real danger then and it remains a danger now.  In the U.K. we were worried about media piracy and that brought the need for everyone to register. In Brazil it's about anonymity and the Constitution and all of these things are limiting the amount of connectivity.  
One of the big issues that will remain for WiFi, less so with real mesh networks, but is the cost of backhaul.  And I understand that's a more fundamental problem in the U.S. than the rest of the world because it's not regulated (albeit everyone says Title II means the world is going to end and the sky is going to fall). But that will always be a fundamental issue.  But piracy and backhaul costs are a important element to that.  On the auction point I'm sure Vint can say something to the fact that Net Neutrality was in the auctions in the U.S.
"CHRIS MARSDEN: In markets where consumers had ration slow access to the Internet, they would pay for specialized services?  But where they already had fast access to the Internet, they wouldn't?  Is that more or less the take away? RENÉ ARNOLD: I think it would be a bit too short to use that as a summary because we had also in Sweden, we had about 25% of consumers who would also be willing to purchase prioritized services, however I think that would be in a slightly different direction and more probably more specific to a specific streaming service or something like that.  Whereas in the Czech Republic, this group, the same group was 41%.  So essentially we find the same affect but the group size varies.
"CHRIS MARSDEN: This is very interesting research.  In the U.K. when Ofcom researched this area, the research company had to explain to the consumers what Net Neutrality is.  So that in an initial set of results, people didn't care about Net Neutrality, it turned out essentially they didn't know what it was. Once they found out what it meant and what violations would be... he knows the research.  Consumers freaked out and started saying unpleasant things about Telecoms company.  Did you find that also in the qualitative research there was a need to explain what it is to people before the penny dropped and they understood the impact? 
"RENÉ ARNOLD: We found quite the same affect actually.  And I think it is also quite logical in a way to expect that from consumers.  Now what we did in the qualitative research in particular, we had a sort of three step process.  First we just confronted them with the word, Net Neutrality and we let them freely associate with that. Then, we gave them a very short explanation of what it was and what it meant.  Had another round of associations and then we really engaged in a discussion on the affects on different alterations, etc and discussed that with them.  But I also wanted to add that what we also did in the quantitative work is we had half of our consumers did receive an information package on the affects of Net Neutrality, whereas the other half of our respondents did not.  And what was quite interesting to see was that because we and BEREC it was very, very important for us as well as for BEREC to frame this information as neutrally as possible, so we were presenting both positive and negative affects of traffic mapping and what we managed to do was, we did find or we did get an educational affect of that information package.  So we had also questions to test whether people actually understood more or less after the information or whether those with the information understood better what Net Neutrality was, than those without, and we could significantly prove that that was the case.  However, interestingly, it did not alter their attitudes so much towards traffic management, nor did it alter their purchase intentions significantly.

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