Opponents Have Misinterpreted ETNO's ITR Proposal, Association Head Says
12 September 2012

From Communications Daily, published by Warren Communications, http://www.warren-news.com/index.htm

Opponents of the European Telecommunications Network Operators' Association's (ETNO) proposed revisions to the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR) have misinterpreted the proposal as an attempt to regulate the Internet, said ETNO Chairman Luigi Gambardella in an interview. The U.S. has been one of the most prominent critics of the ETNO proposal in recent months, particularly since it publicly released its own ITR position ahead of the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT). Delegates to the conference, beginning in Dubai Dec. 3, will seek a consensus on revisions to the treaty-level ITR. Terry Kramer, head of the U.S. delegation to WCIT, has publicly criticized the ETNO proposal and other nations' proposals that the U.S. claims could wrest control of the Internet from current stakeholders like the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers and give it to the United Nations' ITU (CD Aug 2 p1).

The U.S.'s initial WCIT filing also reflected that position (CD Aug 6 p2).

ETNO's proposal is not meant to be a call for regulatory action, Gambardella said: "On the contrary, we want to avoid future regulatory decisions that would prevent new business models from emerging or that would hamper differentiated offers, hence limiting consumer choice."

The proposal is a way to "contribute to the definition of a new economic model for the Internet," Gambardella said. The proposal would establish a "sender-party-pays" principle for Internet data traffic, meaning the sender of any Internet content would need to pay for its transmission. That principle would help to alleviate what ETNO views as an imbalance between the amount of revenue operators receive and the amount of data traffic being generated by users, which requires operators to invest in new infrastructure in order to keep up with demand. Some critics have referred to the proposal as a call for the levying of taxes on Internet traffic, David Gross, former State Department international communications and information coordinator, said previously (CD Aug 14 p2). The ETNO proposal is not a tax call, Gambardella said. "The ETNO proposal would like to foster the adoption of a new quality-based delivery model as a basis to reduce the current imbalances in the value of traffic exchanges, with charges to be negotiated commercially between players and based on the value of the traffic," he said.

Kramer has said in the past he is concerned about the effect ETNO's proposal would have on Internet traffic, claiming it could result in a situation in which operators in one country refuse to transmit data to users in another country because of excessive traffic fees in that country. ETNO's proposal only calls for voluntary commercial agreements, Gambardella said. "The sending-party-pays principle is equally applied on a voluntary, commercial basis," he said. "It is important to note that no one will be cut off from the Internet as the 'best effort' Internet as we know it today will continue to exist. What we propose is simply an additional layer, based on quality of service delivery."

Opposition to the ETNO proposal has not been limited to the U.S. The proposal got no support -- and some vocal opposition -- at the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity's meeting in mid-August, according to Gross. ETNO is participating in the regional meetings leading up to WCIT to make a more detailed case for its proposal, Gambardella said. The association also released a paper Friday that details the rationale behind the proposal (http://xrl.us/bnpchr). ETNO has also submitted the paper to the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations, Gambardella said. "Ultimately, the aim is to create a win-win situation for all players," he said. "We are confident that our proposal would further spur innovation on the Internet and create more choice for consumers. Our support base is growing and we are convinced that more support will come as we continue to highlight the serious investment risk and the resultant risk to consumer choice and the growth of new innovative services."

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