South Korea Gives Mobile Operators Permission To Ignore Net Neutrality By Surcharging Or Blocking VOIP Services
from the what's-in-it-for-the-customers? dept
Net neutrality arguments are often couched in rather theoretical terms, and many people can't really see what all the fuss is about. A recent decision in South Korea gives a handy example of what the loss of net neutrality means in practice:
In a move that has critics crying that it is ignoring net neutrality principles, the Korea Communications Commission said last week that it will let three local mobile operators, SK Telecom, KT and LG U+, charge users extra fees for VOIP [voice over IP] applications or block their use entirely.
Among the VOIP services affected is the mobile phone messaging app KakaoTalk, which has a massive following in South Korea:
KakaoTalk has 36 million Korean users and 9.2 million international users. More than half of 50 million Korean cell phone owners use smartphones, according to the Korea Communications Commission.
In other words, thanks to this latest ruling, tens of millions of KakaoTalk users in South Korea will either be forced to pay more, or may even find the service blocked completely. It's hard to see why the South Korean telecom authority decided this kind of tilted playing field was a good idea: the only ones to benefit are the mobile operators who get to attack new entrants that threatened to disrupt their market, while huge numbers of Korean citizens will be worse off as a result. You could hardly hope for a better demonstration of why net neutrality matters, and is not some purely theoretical concern.