1 on the telecommunications industry. I mentioned in a recent blog that governments and the regulators they control seem to be living in a past age when all telecommunications companies were government owned monopolies.
Yes, we all know those old arguments about national security and spectrum management, but when governments start telling CSPs who they can and can’t buy equipment from, how they should manage their own networks and who they can have as customers then the whole thing starts to go a little haywire.
It seems utterly absurd that in this day and age countries, and I’ll name India and the USA as examples, would dare instruct private business, publicly, not to buy equipment from Chinese vendors because they ‘think’ there ‘may be’ links with the Chinese military and could be a risk to security. Oh, really? Give me one telecoms manufacturer in the world that does not have ‘links’ with security and military organizations in their own country. Isn’t it the case that much of our advanced telecoms technology came out of developments for military purposes. Why pick on the Chinese vendors, why not review all the rest with potentially dubious links from countries that we don’t like, are ultra competitive, have low cost structures that give them market advantage or simply don’t play the same politics. This is the stuff that started wars in years gone by.
The duplicity of a government that bans the purchase of Chinese network equipment because it may contain code that compromises national security then threatens to ban BlackBerry usage because its technology is so secure the very same government cannot compromise the privacy and security of its own citizens, defies logic.
It is almost as difficult to understand the current debate around net neutrality in the USA. Surely no-one wants to see restrictions placed on internet access by regulators or governments but extending this to things like traffic-shaping by fixed and mobile broadband operators is unfair. CSPs have paid big money for spectrum, network rollout, BSS and OSS support and they employ hundreds of thousands of people to boot. This is their business and if they choose to throttle abusers on their networks or provide a priority service or higher bandwidth to people that want to pay for it, that is their business. The beauty of a free market system is that if people don’t like it they can go somewhere else. That is the basic premise of the capitalist system.
Perhaps governments and regulators should concentrate their efforts in ensuring that anti-competitive and collusive activities are eliminated so that competition flourishes. That will, in itself, guarantee some level of net neutrality. Of course, if customers don’t like that they can always set up their own network and direct link into the internet.
1 – meddling