Sir, Your editorial “ Obama is only half right about net neutrality”(November 12) is also only partially correct, beginning with its headline.

The real battle is about broadband neutrality, which extends beyond net neutrality. The US broadband providers, notably the oligopoly Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, operate broadband channels that are not Internet-connected and can be used for example to deliver video services, including Netflix’s, in conditions that effectively circumvent the intent and reach of rules applied only to access to the Internet. Local loop unbundling is one tool that can be used to stimulate competition in the broadband market but not the only one. It would probably face even fiercer opposition in the US than limits on so-called “fast lane prioritisation”. Fast lanes can be constructed in conditions that allow companies of all sizes to gain comparable access to fast lanes to points of interconnection with broadband access networks, while allowing customers themselves to choose, as they do now, which fast lane, ie speed of service, they subscribe to within the access networks. The broadband providers should be responsible stewards of substantial public resources to which they have been awarded access in franchises that protect them from competition to a significant degree.

They are not entrepreneurial ventures that have to succeed on their own merits against multiple competitors, unlike the companies that became today’s, or aspire to become tomorrow’s web giants. It is particularly egregious to consider allowing Comcast, to all intents and purposes a family-run firm, to decide the conditions of access to and use of infrastructure that is vital to the social and economic lives of all Americans and US residents.

Martyn Roetter

Independent Telecommunications Consultant,

Boston, MA, US

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