Net Neutrality and Zero Rating was the trending topic in this year’s 2015 IGF in Brazil. People took sides depending on their interests. For example, a research in Asia revealed that zero rated services were an entry point for people who had no access to Internet, and those who used zero rated services went on and converted to paid users after seeing the benefits of the Internet. Another research shows that people don’t use the Internet not because of the cost, but because they don’t need it. Weird conclusion I can say. And some interesting facts is, in communities where zero rated services were the norm, the users did not know the difference between the Internet and Facebook. That is a major problem if you ask me. Another research that Mozilla Foundation was involved in found that when users are given Internet bundles, they accessed diverse types of websites, not just FB and Wikipedia. But the big question was, who funded these types of research? An interested party would of course ensure research results are tilted to their interests.

All that not withstanding, we should pay keen interests to the following points,
1. Zero rating is illegal in most of Europe,  And USA. Even in Brazil, zero rating is not acceptable. Ask yourself why.
2. Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) is a regulator and not a policy maker. Without policy on Net Neutrality, they have nothing to enforce thus leaving market players to their own devices, including abuse. Us the community, in an all inclusive manner should develop a Net Neutrality policy that can be adopted.
3. CA are usually given targets to ensure universal coverage of communication services. I am sure they are very happy to maintain the status quo since they will report zero rated services as a metric of increased access. This will be a big lie because they will have denied the rural folks access to the Internet. We all know one website is not the Internet. The best practice is to have the regulator pressure telcos increase rollout in under-served regions as part of their Universal Service obligations.
4. Zero rating infringes on fundamental human rights by denying users access to the Internet. It may be a conspiracy to keep developing countries in the darkness of the information age. Refer to point 1 above.
5. Let us advocate for universal coverage, better utilisation of USF, telecommunication infrastructure sharing, increased road coverage, accessible wayleaves and cable ducts,  and affordable energy. All these will ensure the COST of internet comes down to a level where every citizen can afford.
6. Countries with no proper access to the Internet will find it difficult to participate in the Internet Economy. And isn’t the entire world now an Internet economy?

There is more, but these points are what comes to mind.


What is Net Neutrality? A popular defination is “Net Nutrality is the principle that Internet service providers should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.

Net neutrality is a new and fuzzy area for most developing countries. There is no policy on Net Neutrality in most of them. Leaving such critical policies to self-regulation is a recipe for chaos where one day citizens will be taken hostage by ISPs. The ISPs can change their business model and lease data super highways to the highest bidders. This is not something new, it has happened elsewhere. The US on demand video streaming company Netflix, and Comcast, one of the leading ISPs had an unholy union where they signed an agreement for Comcast to offer preferential treatment to Netflix data, thus offering Netflix customers’ faster speeds. This in essence would stifle the completion.

Another popular case of Net Neutrality was when Google started paying Orange for using Orange’s infrastructure to reach the Africa Market.  The argument by Orange was, they have made substantial investment in infrastructure in Africa while Google have the majority of users consuming the resource through different services (Youtube, Gmail, google.com, Android store).  Orange took this advantage because there is virtually no Net Neutrality laws in Africa.

Simply put, without Net Neutrality, the carrier sets toll stations for the data providers to pay before passing through. Since Orange and Google has setup the precedence, how can we be sure others will not follow suite?


At present, the global broadband industry has entered into a high-speed development stage. The growth of bandwidth requirements and optical fiber access lead to a global fiber optic network construction wave. To provide ubiquitous broadband access for users, countries around the world makes efforts to wireless broadband seamless access through a variety of means, for example, developing the LTE mobile communications technology and market. Broadband development has also led to the emerging of mobile Internet, cloud computing, Internet of things, intelligent terminal that broadband has become an important part of the strategic emerging industries and competition cores.Broadband is helpful to promote the economic growth, and the effect is more significant for developing countries. In improving productivity, broadband will help boosting a rise of 5% in manufacturing industry, 10% increase in service industry and 20% for the information industry.

However, many developing countries still encounter lots of issues, such as weak infrastructure construction, imbalanced urban and rural development, less developed application service and original technology, pressure on saving cost. It is an urgent task to strengthen infrastructure construction and capacity building, more importantly from the design policy.

The workshop will invite multistakeholder from different angles to discuss:
(1) how developing countries carry out effective broadband network construction,
(2) what’s the roles of different stakeholders in this process,
(3) how to strengthen the capacity building,
(4) how to design better policy to promoting broadband access and service,
(5) the best practice and challenges etc.

Moderators

avatar for Xinmin GAO

Xinmin GAO

Vice President, Internet Society of China
Mr. Xinmin Gao is Vice President of the Internet Society of China, Member of the Advisory Committee for the State Informatization, P. R. China. He graduated with a Master degree from the Department of Electrical Machinery of the Polytechnic Institute of Kalinin, Leningrad in the former Soviet Union.  He has extensive working experience in research organizations in the former Ministry of Electronics Industry, and later assumed the position of Director of the State Information Center. …
Read More →


Speakers

avatar for Khaled Fourati

Khaled Fourati

Project Manager, World Wide Web Foundation
Khaled is the Web Index Project Manager at the World Wide Web Foundation. He has over ten years°Ø experience managing multi-country projects in information and communication technologies (ICTs) with a focus on Internet policies and digital networks. Before joining the Web Foundation, Khaled was with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) where he collaborated with academia, governments, the private sector and civil society organisations in Africa and Asia to leverage a…
Read More →
avatar for Jia He

Jia He

Analyst, China Academy of Telecommunication Research (CATR)
Ms. Jia He is serving as an analyst for China Academy of Telecommunication Research (CATR), a non-profit research institute. She focuses on the research of ICT policy analysis, specially Internet Governance. As a policy analysis expert, she is actively involving into the issues of ICANN globalization from the perspective of academy and actively promoting Internet development in Chinese Internet communities through problem-oriented methods. Since 2012, she participates in the conferences of…
Read More →
avatar for Mwendwa Kivuva

Mwendwa Kivuva

Mr. Mwendwa Kivuva has wide experience in internet policy development at the local and international level with a passion for the Internet governance. He is the Secretary General of Internet Society (ISOC) Kenya Chapter and secretary of ISACA Kenya communications committee. He is also the Kenyan ICANN’s At-large Structure representative to African At-large Organization (AFRALO) where individual internet users’ voice is heard within ICANN.   He has participated actively on all East…
Read More →
avatar for Ana Neves

Ana Neves

Director, Department of the Information Society, FCT, Ministry of Education and Science, Portugal
Ms. Ana Neves serves as Director of the Department of Information Society at the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I.P. (FCT) in Portugal since 1st of March 2012, following the merging of the “Knowledge Society Agency–UMIC”, where she served as Head of International Affairs from 1st September 2008 until 29th February 2012. The FCT is currently the public entity in Portugal with the mission of coordinating the Information Society Policy in…
Read More →
avatar for Claudia Selli

Claudia Selli

Claudia Selli is the European Affairs Director of AT&T International External & Regulatory Affairs since September 2010. Her main task is to advocate AT&T positions in Brussels towards the European institutions as well as in other European Member States and particularly in Germany.      Prior to joining AT&T, Claudia worked at the European Commission, DG Information Society where she took part in the negotiations with the European Parliament on several…
Read More →
avatar for Lingxi Wu

Lingxi Wu

Mr. Lingxi Wu is the vice Deputy Director of the product Division of the Innovative Business Department of China Telecom.   Mr. Wu was graduated from the University of Electronic Science and Technology in 1995, and he received the Master degree of mobile communications engineering from Nanjing Institute of Posts and Telecommunications in 2008.   Mr. Wu was served in China Post Xiamen branch, China Telecom Xiamen branch, and the Products Planning Office of Marketing in China Telecom…
Read More →


Remote Moderators

Tuesday September 2, 2014 11:00am – 12:30pm
Workshop Room 05 (Rumeli -1 Floor / Room 3)

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) has been under threat and there is a raging debate on its sustainability. When the Indonesia government announced it would pull out as the convener of the 2013 IGF, the entire Internet community was thrown in a spin. For that reason among others, Internet Society (ISOC) has resolved to establish a legal structure with the objective of achieving stable and sustainable funding for an association in support of the global IGF and regional IGF initiatives. This is a welcomed development which will give stakeholders more resolve and confidence in participating in this important forum.

The setting up of a group composed of ISOC, IETF, IAB, Regional Internet Registries, and ICANN’s Supporting Organization and Advisory Committees to steward IANA transition is welcomed. To have an all-inclusive IANA transition acceptable by both the East and West, ICANN which has been granted the privilege to spearhead the process will have to appear to be as inclusive as possible. The script had already been read when ICANN’s Government Advisor Committee (GAC) insisted on having 5 slots in the IANA transition committee to represent the five regions of the world instead of the two positions it had been given. The outcome of the whole process has to appear to have the interest of the world Internet user. All citizens of the world need to feel part of the whole process. I would expect a transition process that does not place any stakeholder in a privileged position. In the IANA transition, I do not see the need for structural changes in relation to the development of global IP addressing policies since that function is working as expected, a position shared by the Address Supporting Organizations. The Internet community will expect a transition with minimum risks on current well established operations.

Many stakeholders have accepted ICANN to be the final manager of the IANA functions. To be more acceptable, ICANN has initiated a number of activities, among them Internationalization of ICANN to make it appear a not so much a “California (US) organization” but a global organization. The folly of this is ICANN is still a US organization no matter how many branches it opens worldwide, the world will still continue to see it as a US organization. As the IANA transition debate rages on, we will see positions change as each stakeholder tries to get an upper hand. France’s call for world Internet Governance Council to be headquartered in Switzerland to replace IGF and oversee ICANN operations is an example of the fear and marginalization other stakeholders feel within the Internet Governance landscape. My fear would only be more government control in Internet Governance matters, which would mean other traditional stakeholders would find it even harder to engage.

I believe the different stakeholders can have equal say in shaping the future of the Internet. In Brazil during NetMundial, we saw all stakeholders coming together in an ad-hoc constituted meeting and trying to reach a consensus on common principles. Although civil society felt shortchanged in the process, it is a move in the right direction because you win some, and lose some.

Although the IGF model as envisioned is not a decision making model, the Kenya IGF has been praised even at UN level where the output has been touted as a model to emulate because some of the decisions have gone ahead to be implemented at the national level. A good example is Article 10 of the Kenyan constitution where Multistakeholderism has been embraced where all stakeholders are consulted in national issues. As an example, we have seen Computer Authority of Kenya call for public consultation in the National Cyber Security Framework. Most government Authorities have representation of all stakeholders and the Kenyan consumer has a say in matters of policy.

To quote the Kenyan constitution “Article 10 National Values and principles of Governance (2.) The national values and principles of governance include: (a) patriotism, national unity, sharing and devolution of power, the rule of law, democracy and participation of the people. (b) human dignity, equity, social inclusiveness, equality, human rights, non-discrimination and protection of the marginalized.”

The question of concrete outcomes produced through the IGF is sometimes tackled diplomatically. At the UK IGF of July 2014, the organizers were not able to clearly indicate how the outcome of previous IGFs were used to influence policy, only stating that multistakeholderism and dialogue was part of the success of the IGF. The UK also stated she was able to adjust policy positions from outcomes of the IGF and have UK positions in bilateral talks with the greater Europe. However, there was no example given on these positions.

Let us not lose hope. The IGF might be a talk shop, but the outcome has a positive bearing to our society. And talking is not necessarily a bad thing because consensus on contemporary issues is reached after engagement. It is my hope that we can have a discussion that is as inclusive as possible where all stakeholders feel they are participating on equal footing. The IGF provides a unique platform for all stakeholders to openly exchange perspectives on key issues that impact the future of the Internet. I also commend the IGFs for the capacity building it develops because participants usually have key lessons they domesticate back home. It is also my hope that the Internet Governance community can find a way to make the IGF more effective, and have a proper way to implement and measure the effectiveness of the outcomes.


The Internet Society (ISOC) has been working with the African Union (AU) to facilitate the African Internet Exchange System (AXIS). This AXIS project funded by the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund and the Government of Luxembourg will help keep Internet traffic in Africa internal to the continent and avoid expensive international transit costs and delay latency in routing Internet traffic through other continents. The Axis project was established by AU in 2010 while ISOC has partnered with Africa Network Information Center (AfriNIC) to make the project a reality. According to AXIS IXP Regional project, the AXIS will “reduce traffic load on upstream providers, reduce cost, increase speed, and reduce latency for inter-country exchange of traffic and enhances internet usage in the region.”

ISOC continues to stay real to its mission “to promote the open development, evolution and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world” and has strived to take the internet to every corner of the globe. Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) enable Internet Service providers (ISPs) to exchange Internet traffic between their networks thus reducing the ISP’s traffic that must be delivered through upstream transit providers therefore reducing the cost of the service. So far, Africa is increasing the number of IXPs implemented therefore reducing the consumer’s cost of data carrier transit charges. The Axis project will help spur the growth of local content, and improve local hosting initiatives within the continent. Upcoming African Internet entrepreneurs have relied on renting servers and hosting their content on datacenters outside the continent. Initiatives like AXIS will change the status quo and enable more datacenters to be setup on the continent. Other factors that have contributed to low penetration of local content in Africa include expensive electricity that power datacenters and a culture where content is not necessarily written or digitized but passed down from generation to generation through word of mouth.

Successful IXPs have been implemented in over 20 African countries with South Africa leading with five IXPs. The AXIS project has successfully launched four IXPs in Bujumbura – Burundi, Windhoek – Namibia,  Mbabane- Kingdom of Swaziland, and the latest being in Serrekunda – Gambia in July 2014. Several capacity building workshops have also been held across the continent in Botswana, Rwanda, Nigeria, Egypt, and Gabon to strengthen existing IXPs.

The AXIS project aims to have 80% of Internet traffic exchanged in Africa by 2020, keeping local traffic local. This is truly one of the Africa’s Internet success stories.


My region has many Internet governance issues. I would like to handle the topic of “The Internet as an engine for growth and advancement. “

Access to the Internet can change lives of many people in the developing world producing plenty of opportunities for the youth, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders. Access to the internet in Africa is primarily through mobile phones.

Many young people are unemployed, yet we can harness technology to assist them improve their livelihoods. Opportunities for the youth can be made possible through introduction of affordable phones, training the youth on mobile application development, incubation of youth businesses that are developing new innovative applications that run on mobile phones and finally, providing employment opportunities for these young innovators. Economic empowerment of the youth will lead to self sustainability of these nations. In the past few years, cost of mobile phones has decreased, enabling access to majority of citizens in developing countries. According to a research by iHub Research and Research Solutions Africa conducted in mid 2012, (Crandall, 2012) noted that “16% of Kenyans at the BoP1 Internet on their mobile phone” This has also been made possible because cellular companies have reduced cost of operating mobile phones by providing cheap calling rates and internet.

As the barriers to access of the phones have been broken, the youth have showed great innovation through development of applications. One such application in Kenya is the iCow that enable farmers to keep health records for their livestock. Other applications being considered will enable farmers get competitive markets for their produce through introduction of a commodities exchange market, and access of competitive market price information. Ushahidi on the other hand is an application that can solve crisis problems of crime, delinquency, and disasters by use of Crowdsourcing.

Opportunities for entrepreneurs can be made possible where governments are stable and they enact favorable policies and regulations for investors. This will attract major companies to establish bases in developing countries and provide funding to local startups. The firms will provide business solutions like mobile banking, provision of micro loans through mobiles,

and mobile money transfer services. A good innovation in the Kenyan market because of favorable business environment is the world famous M-PESA, a mobile money transfer platform.

For many of these positives to become a reality, policies and regulations that affect the access to phones and the internet should be formulated. In Kenya, counterfeit phones were switched off September 30th 2012. The communication commission ordered telecommunication operators to block phones that don’t have International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI ) number from accessing network services. The main reason was that the phones pose security risks to the country because the users cannot be tracked, and also counterfeits deny revenue to the genuine manufacturers. About 1.5million phones were switched off, affecting many users at BoP. (Chebusiri, 2012) Should Kenya have taken a different road? Such policies of locking out the poor from accessing the network only serve to enlarge the digital divide. The digital divide is not only about people of lower economic class not affording mobile phones and internet, but a research conducted by (Scott & McKemey, 2002) revealed that less women have access to phones and internet than men, and less educated people are likely to use these technology than those with high school diploma. Tracking mobile users’ activities poses serious questions of privacy, and incline towards abuse of basic human rights.

Internet Service providers do bandwidth trottling to Peer to Peer (P2P) traffic especially when enforcing copyrights, or metering videos that clog their networks affecting the Quality of service (QOS) for the majority of average users. Accessing the internet through handheld phones as it is the case of developing countries tackles issues of net neutrality since mobile phones use less bandwidth, and they don’t have heavy applications that affect the QoS of other users.

All in all, developing nations should concentrate on having concrete policies, laws and regulation, having stable governments, educating the youth, and encouraging strategic investors to fund local businesses in the technology field. This will enable the nations to create more wealth and improve the livelihoods of their citizens, as well as benefit from foreign exchange and better balance of trade caused by exporting technology.

Bibliography

Chebusiri, W.w., 2012. BBC News – Kenya’s battle to switch off fake phones. [Online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-19819965 [Accessed 24 October 2012].Crandall, A., 2012.

How the Kenyan base of the pyramid uses their mobile phone | *iHub. [Online] Available at: http://www.ihub.co.ke/blog/2012/10/how-the-kenyan-base-of-the-pyramid-uses-their-mobile-phone

[Accessed 24 October 24].Scott, N. & McKemey, K., 2002. The use of Telephone in Rural and Low Income Communities in Africa. In 42nd Meeting of the CTO Council. London, 2002.