There’s a price for eliminating internet neutrality… and we’ll be the ones paying it

A study carried out by Epicenter (pdf) over several years clearly demonstrates that in European countries where internet neutrality is violated through zero-rating offers, tariffs offering free data for traffic generated by social networks, video, music or messaging, people systematically pay higher data rates than those where those offers do not exist.

The study evidences something that common sense ought to tell us, but that has been persistently denied in some quarters: compromising internet neutrality, relaxing its principles or regarding it as flexible automatically results in higher prices and unfair markets.

The lessons of the European market should be a lesson for regulators everywhere: internet neutrality vanishes when the telecommunications companies appoint their own lobbyists to head regulatory bodies, stopping at nothing to boost their profits at the expense of users. What’s more, their arguments for violating internet neutrality are a pack of lies: once they get what they want, all those promises of more investment in faster networks come to nothing.

Internet neutrality is what turns makes the internet what it is; ending that neutrality will only benefit a few telecommunications companies and whose opposition to innovation enables them to make more money. How do they make more money? At the expense of users. It’s pretty basic math.

When operators offer us free bits based on accessing certain sites, remember that these supposed bargains are a con, a short-term benefit for which we’ll pay a high price in the years to come. They aren’t “free data”, they’re a swindle. These are offers that privilege some service providers — those that can afford to cut preferential agreements with the operators — over others, unfairly distorting the market, and that also mean your operator will be monitoring your traffic to decide whether to charge you or not, depending on its content, and that, in the end, will simply mean you end up paying more for your data.

It’s a nice business… for the telecommunications companies, at our expense.


(En español, aquí)