The rapid rise of high-bandwidth internet content, such as video, has led several telecommunications companies in the US to push for higher fees from the content providers in recent months, which could raise costs to not only established internet companies such as Google and Yahoo!, but smaller start-ups.
Advocates of “net neutrality” argue that such a move would go against the very nature of the internet, which they say has fostered innovation because its architecture is based on open and equal access. Charging content providers more, they argue, could stop tomorrow’s Googles from even starting.
However the telecommunications industry has spent vast amounts in its high-bandwidth infrastructure and argues that it should be entitled to a share of profits gained by using its networks. Furthermore, they say that demand for faster broadband will mean even more money is spent upgrading to “next generation” networks.
The position of net neutrality supporters took a blow when proposed network neutrality price controls in the US suffered a key defeat in late April. Meanwhile some European telecoms companies have indicated they will also seek a new charging regime for internet content providers.
Ricardo Perissich is the head of regulatory affairs at Telecom Italia and chief executive of Telecom Italia Media. Mr Perissich says network neutrality is an issue for European telecoms companies as well, and he has raised this issue with the European Commission.
Andrew McLaughlin is senior policy counsel at Google with a long association with public internet policy. He was involved in setting up the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), the global internet governance body, and held several senior positions there between 1998 and 2002.
Mr Perissich and Mr McLaughlin will answer your questions in a live debate on net neutrality from 4pm BST on Thursday May 11. Send your questions now to firstname.lastname@example.org - answers will appear at www.ft.com/netneutrality
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