The Internet Isn't Broken; So Why Is The ITU Trying To 'Fix' It?

from the because-it-wants-to-break-it dept

We've been talking about the ITU's upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) for a while now, and it's no longer "upcoming." Earlier today, the week and a half session kicked off in Dubai with plenty of expected controversy. The US, the EU and now Australia have all come out strongly against the ITU's efforts to undermine the existing internet setup to favor authoritarian countries or state-controlled (or formerly state-controlled) telcos who want money for internet things they had nothing to do with. The BBC article above has a pretty good rundown of some of the scarier proposals being pitched behind closed doors at WCIT. Having the US, EU and Australia against these things is good, but the ITU works on a one-vote-per-country system, and plenty of other countries see this as a way to exert more control over the internet, in part to divert funds from elsewhere into their own coffers.

Hamadoun Toure, secretary-general of the ITU, keeps trying to claim that this is all about increasing internet access, but that's difficult to square with reality:
"The brutal truth is that the internet remains largely [the] rich world's privilege, " said Dr Hamadoun Toure, secretary-general of the UN's International Telecommunications Union, ahead of the meeting.

"ITU wants to change that."
Of course, internet access has already been spreading to the far corners of the planet without any "help" from the ITU. Over two billion people are already online, representing about a third of the planet. And, yes, spreading that access further is a good goal, but the ITU is not the player to do it. The reason that the internet has been so successful and has already spread as far as it has, as fast as it has, is that it hasn't been controlled by a bureaucratic government body in which only other governments could vote. Instead, it was built as an open interoperable system that anyone could help build out. It was built in a bottom up manner, mainly by engineers, not bureaucrats. Changing that now makes very little sense.

Besides, does anyone really think that a process that requires the companies who successfully innovated to funnel money to corrupt governments and/or corrupt state-controlled telcos is going to magically lead to greater investment in internet growth? If so, I've got a prince in Nigeria with 53 $ Million US waiting in a bank all for you.

Neelie Kroes, the VP of the EU Commission and in charge of the EU's Digital Agenda tweeted simply:
The internet works, it doesn't need to be regulated by ITR treaty. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
And that's the thing. The internet works just fine. The only reason to "fix" it, is to "break" it in exactly the way the ITU wants, which is to favor a few players who have done nothing innovative to actually deserve it.

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  1. icon
    Greevar (profile), 3 Dec 2012 @ 8:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Better the devil you know

    "As for building the infrastructure itself, all they had to do was build upon existing lines. According to FCC net neutrality rules, they wouldn't telcos would not be able to stop them from tapping into their networks."

    That would be completely pointless. The goal was to build new infrastructure that's faster than the old one, not piggyback on the old dusty piece of shit we have now. That's like building a new bridge on the foundation of an old crumbling bridge. It's just not a sound strategy.

    As for their choice in location, I think it was brilliant. Put it right in one of the most under-served areas in America. It's not exactly Silicon Valley there and that's the point. Silicon Valley doesn't need more high speed internet, they already have it. The pyramid needs to be turned over. Putting it in an area already well served by high speed internet would have been a huge waste and it would have gone largely unnoticed. Put it in an area that generally doesn't have much high bandwidth service and people will notice. It's going to cause upheaval. It has to contrast with the norm. East and west coast doesn't contrast with this enough. In the Midwest, this sticks out like a sore thumb. People take stand up and take notice. Which is the whole point of this entire venture. Google wants to put ISP's on notice. They better upgrade their networks or someone else will take their market away from them.

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