Net Neutrality was high on the agenda at an inter-governmental CTU Executive Council meeting in Antigua earlier this month with attendees zeroing in on the issue of the impact of Net Neutrality on investment in the region.
Commenting on the issue, Julian Wilkins, Digicel Group Government Relations and Public Affairs Director, said; “We must ask if these Net Neutrality rules promote investment in the Caribbean. Are such rules good for the Caribbean? There must be a distinction between rules which ensure that the internet remains open and the principles of Net Neutrality which are really about who pays for the internet and favouring the Silicon Valley giants by allowing them free access to networks. In the US, regulators now admit that Net Neutrality rules are a form of “corporate favouritism” that have resulted in less investment in broadband networks by telecommunications operators.”
With Wilkins recommending a technology-neutral “same rules for the same service” approach be applied to all service providers including network operators and over-the-top players, he also cited CANTO’s Code of Practice of safeguarding the open Internet as a positive example of operators in the Caribbean taking the initiative and responding to this challenge. To date, 30 operators have signed and thereby made a commitment to maintain the open Internet with no blocking or throttling.
Wilkins continued: “By working together regulators and the industry can protect consumers by ensuring that there is no blocking of Internet content while also creating the right conditions for operators to invest. The US is now changing its approach as Net Neutrality rules are seen to have been a mistake. Instead of copying other regions, the Caribbean needs to decide what is best for Caribbean consumers to promote jobs and investment in the region.”