In December 2017, the US Federal Communications Commission resolved to eliminate the protection that favored net neutrality. This decision was controversial, given that the Internet has become the biggest information and communication means not only in Mexico, but all around the world.
Evidently, this issue has been current for several years, and has been addressed in different ways in every country.
But, what does net neutrality mean?
It is the principle under which Internet service providers must treat the data traveling on the net equally, and neither discriminate nor restrict access or content. As a result, end users are benefited. Thus, the benefits brought about by net neutrality have, for years, led to the development and evolution of information and content, as well as the incorporation and growth of countless companies.
The main issue consists in determining if Internet service providers must restrict or discriminate against information traffic and, if applicable, charge for data to travel through the net with greater or lesser priority. On the one hand, Internet service providers argue that this could result in a better investment on the net. However, this could adversely affect content creators, which will result in discriminatory practices and the privileging of companies associated with Internet providers.
For example, let us think of a specific Internet service provider. Based on the foregoing information, this provider could charge for access to platforms such as Netflix or YouTube, and privilege other platforms like Claro Video, Amazon Prime, Blim, etc. As a result, consumer preferences could change.
In light of this dilemma, a battle led by the main characters in the market is expected to take place, in the near future, against the decision made by the US Federal Communications Commission. Therefore, rather than being over, this debate has barely started.
In the case of Mexico, the Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law, article 145, stipulates net neutrality, thereby contemplating a series of principles to be followed for correct Internet service provision. Such principles include:
- Free choice.
- Information and transparency.
- Traffic management.
- Sustained infrastructure development.
Likewise, article 146 sets forth that: “Concessionaires and authorized parties must provide Internet services based on the capacity, speed, and quality contracted by the user, regardless of the content, origin, destination, terminal, or application. In addition, online services must comply with the provisions set forth in the previous articles.”
Even though our country’s neutrality regulation must fully comply with the principles described above, neutrality Guidelines are yet to be issued by the Federal Telecommunications Institute.
It appears that the decision made by the US Federal Communications Commission will be discussed in connection with the regulations to be established in Mexico. However, the political circumstances, given the upcoming presidential elections, may delay the publication of the neutrality Guidelines.
The issuance of neutrality Guidelines will constitute a difficult task to guarantee net neutrality, to unify criteria, and to prevent construction problems. Therefore, public consultation prior to the issuance of these guidelines must be deemed fundamental to listen to key actors and consider their points of view.
In the meantime, we must remain attentive to the battle to be fought between President Trump’s Administration and the advocates of Net Neutrality within the United States. Similarly, in Mexico, we will keep on waiting for the issuance of the neutrality Guidelines, which are already going through a sinuous way, even more so given current political circumstances, which may contaminate the debate.
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