Telefónica Spain and Net Neutrality

Spanish Bloggers are once again discussing net neutrality, but this time the focus is not on the Google-Verizon´s agreement and their policy offer in the U.S, but on something much closer and of immediate effect to them: Telefónica (the largest telecommunications service supplier in that country) and its proposal to abolish the flat rate and to establish three types of services covered by the quality and use of user data.

Juan Varela, in his blog Periodistas21 explains [sp] the crux of the proposal that Telefonica has made to the Spanish Telecommunications Market Commission for new services that would replace the current ones and seek to:

Ultimately, replace the current open internet by a network of public access and other payment networks: digital platform access and premium content. A divided and more expensive internet. That's the objective of the telecommunications operators in order to enter more cash from the users and get their share of the business of online content and internet services, especially television and video downloads (P2P or direct) and internet telephony (VoIP), but also new offers from geolocation, augmented reality, telemedicine, etc.

He further states that “the prices and contracts are divided on the quality of contracted access and consumption taking place, when so far one only pays for the access technology and speed.” In particular the new classification of services would be like this:

  • The quality of real time (RT), the most expensive and the one that would ensure advanced services and high bandwidth consumption, is aimed at real-time multimedia applications.
  • Gold quality would be designed for enterprise environments without delay or data loss. In case of network congestion this data will take precedence over data from residential users.
  • Best Effort quality is mainly for private access to the Internet. Its only requirement would be delivery without error, but it does not guarantee optimal service quality for services of high consumption.

The media have also echoed this, informing in a tone that seems to show that they do not agree. For example Publico.es says: First step towards ending flat rate internet [sp], and Información.es titled their piece: Telefonica does not want to sell more ADSL flat rate to other operators [sp]. For its part, the daily El Pais refers to [sp] “the British subsidiary of Telefonica, has decided to put restrictions on all flat rate broadband plans for homes” in the UK.

But it is in blogs and citizen journalism sites where it is being written about the most. For example, Pau Llop of Bottup.com published an article titled Neutrality on the Internet: Will we let them take it away? [sp] where he says:

The debate, reinvigorated by Telefónica again, now focuses on rates: “who consumes more will pay more.” They propose to end with the flat rate with the absurd excuse that there are people who “uses the web a lot more” and others “who only look at their e-mail.” It is the first step. If we accept that thinking “who cares? I don't download movies”, the web will no longer be neutral in its first degree and soon will come the control of the web itself in the interests of business operators and their shareholders.

And then he proposes several actions we can take to raise awareness about this topic:

  • If you have a blog or other publication space, learn and write about the importance of Net neutrality.
  • If you use Facebook, Tuenti, Twitter, etc.., Write messages in favor of Net neutrality and pass links to documents, videos or news explaining the importance of their defense. If you receive such messages, share them with your friends on these networks.
  • When you hear on the news or on the radio something about it, discuss it with your companions and explain what net neutrality is and why it is so important. Do it in any conversation that you think fits the theme, do not limit yourself to the digital world.

The official agency response on the proposal made by Telefonica is still pending, but most bloggers think that if there is no awareness at all levels on what net neutrality really means it will be very easy for this proposal to end up being approved.

Other posts on this topic (in spanish):

De todo un poco: Idea contra la ruptura de la neutralidad de la red: nacionalización de la red de cobre
Error500: ¿Quién controlará el marketplace de los servicios premium en internet?
Nación Red: El debate sobre el final de la tarifa plana inflama la red y llega a los editoriales de la prensa más tradicional
Planeta Media: El Futuro de los Servicios Premium
Consultoría Artesana en Red: Internet, más que nunca antes, un derecho
Enrique Dans: Telecomunicaciones y futuro
Libertad Digital: Los límites a la tarifa plana
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The image used as thumbnail was taken from Bottup.
Thanks to Silvia Viñas and Leila Nachawati for their help in the proof reading of the this post's translation from its original version.

3 comments

  • kevin

    Telefonica ( O2 ) has an abysmal record of high prices and poor service in Spain. Seems it has funded its other operations by overcharging its home customers to keep prices down in other countries. now established telefonica wishes to controlk the internet for profit and the people will lose more freedoms

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