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Does the ITU see QoS as a way to retain control?

When the ITU meets in Dubai in December, the issue of interconnected QoS is on the table. Is this another attempt by network providers to get a slice of the content providers' pie?
Written by Phil Dobbie, Contributor

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In this week's Twisted Wire podcast, Geoff Huston, chief scientist at the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), recalls a time when content providers were struggling to make money, so they tried to charge telecommunications providers. Now, with the shoe on the other foot, the internet companies want to get a slice of the content providers' revenue.

In early December, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) will meet in Dubai to discuss reforms to industry regulations and standards. The last time this happened was 25 years ago, and the main resolution was focused on how money has changed hands related to the delivery of phone calls.

This time around, it seems that the ITU has a far broader agenda, including addressing how network providers are recompensed for the delivery of content. An ITU discussion paper suggests that one way of settling the perceived imbalance could be through quality-of-service (QoS) interconnect — in other words, carrying data at an agreed standard from one network to another. Telecommunications providers can then offer a better standard of delivery, for a price. Or perhaps, as Vocus CEO James Spencely cynically suggests, "we'll deliver it worse, unless you pay us for it."

Spencely has a point. If content is prioritised in any way, isn't that a challenge to the concept of net neutrality? This is presumably another discussion point for the ITU in Dubai.

In this week's podcast, we look at the idea of QoS as a means to raise revenue for network providers — and Paul Budde explains what else we can expect to come out of the ITU conference.

Your thoughts are welcome on the Twisted Wire feedback line. Call 02 9304 5198 and leave a message. What regulations, if any, does the ITU need to discuss?

Running time: 31 minutes, 56 seconds

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