The real issue at the WCIT conference

A lot has been written about the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), organized by the International Telecommunications Union, as a long-needed update to ancient telecom regulators.

Because of some public statements by certain governments and reports of closed-door machinations, a number of commentators worry that the conference in Dubai — which runs Dec. 3 to the 14th — is about to allow governments to have greater control over the Internet.

But University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist says we shouldn’t be distracted by wild fears. Instead, he writes, the real issue at the meeting is whether it will approve a European telecom consortium’s proposal to give telecom carriers power to charge content providers like Google for transporting data. Undoubtedly these charges will be passed on to corporate and consumer users. The consortium also wants some sort of ‘quality of service’ rules that sound akin to traffic management.
 
 
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Still, Geist says many North American telcos oppose European approach. Let’s hope it sinks fast.
 
Breaking news: The U.S. State Department released a transcript today of a conference call with reporters and the head of the U.S. delegation, who said the focus of the conference will be telecommunications, not the Internet. “This should not be the charter to review private networks, Internet networks, cloud computing networks, and on the other side, government networks. That’s not the charter of this treaty,” he said in part. Read the transcript here.
 
 


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