Reply to post: Re: Free roaming isn't all that either

Europe fails to ban web 'fast lanes' – what now for Euro net neutrality?

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Free roaming isn't all that either

So this is a success for the telecos u der the auspicious stewardship of H-dot.

Actually no. The whole thing is running under Ansip's remit, Oettinger's got his fingers in other pies.

As Kieren rightly points out the law is a typical fudge: roaming and net neutrality have nothing to do with each other and, therefore, shouldn't be on the same bill. But it was cooked up as a compromise to suit the nation states, who are more or less beholden to the telcos (though less in Germany than in France or the UK). Both the European Commission and the European Parliament have historically been much more pro-consumer in this field (Viviane Reding wanted to eliminate roaming charges over ten years ago!).

The key to all the EU's regulation is making sure than a healthy wholesale market exists. For ISPs, this means LLU and occasionally inspecting peering agreements between the companies that provide the physical infrastructure of the internet. Without proper supervision some companies could, at least in theory, start offering their own private interwebs and thus ensuring exclusivity. Imagine one of the behemoths buying a film or TV studio.

For mobile, this means the ability to choose a separate company to provide roaming services. I'm already in my second year of no roaming charges for calls, and this is on a German PAYG card. When visiting the UK I already have a dedicated SIM for data only, but wouldn't it be even easier to use my existing one but choose the same UK provider? On modern infrastructure phone calls have negligible marginal cost for providers, which is why they were so loathe to lose the free money they were making on roaming, but data may remain a permanent bottleneck (we'll always want to watch films using more bandwidth than is available on any particular cell). This would restrict investment because of the promise of negative returns without some kind of a cap. A wholesale market provides space for third parties to provide additional capacity. Got a low-data UK PAYG and visiting France? Why not buy 2GB for 1 week for 1 Euro directly from Orange France as opposed to whatever gouging your own provider has to offer? Arbitrage should lead to prices consolidating around a sustainable level over time.

Net neutrality has been a largely hysterical sideshow, though it did raise some important issues. But, at the end of the day, does it really come down to being encouraged to use the streaming service of your ISP over something like Watchever?

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019