Sources: European Telecom Operators’ Proposals Run Aground At WCIT

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By Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch

European Telecommunications and Network Operators (ETNO) proposals for accounting changes between internet providers – namely a “sender-party-pays regime” and provisions to foster end-to-end quality of service management on the net – did not make it into the joint proposal of Greater Europe for the World Conference on Telecommunication (WCIT), according to a source close to the process.

The CEPT, the joint body of Communications and Postal regualtory authorities from 47 member states, finalised their proposal for the WCIT yesterday in Turkey and came down on the conservative side, the source told Intellectual Property Watch.

WCIT proposals are available here.

The majority of member states had agreed earlier that they would favour a narrow scope for the future International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR), the international treaty that is up for review at the WCIT. The process is being led by the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

While ETNO officials maintained that there are more decisions to come next week, a source said there were only five countries to come. Yet five no-votes would not change the majority vote. Over the week, CEPT has discussed several versions of ETNO compromise drafts, yet the majority came down on the side that the issue should not be dealt with at the ITR level.

ETNO recently argued that the ITU would be best situated to tackle the interconnection accounting issue where the telecom operators hoped to finally be able to get some money from the fast-growing “over the top providers” like Google or Akamai. Internet operators and the technical community have warned against a change of the classical internet model with private peering and once-and-for-all content paid access or transit fees.

With the proposal rejected in Europe, the question is whether the European operators could find support elsewhere, yet most regional proposals seem pretty much finalised.

[Editor's Note: Ambassador Terry Kramer, head of the US delegation to the WCIT, on 8 October told reporters in Geneva that the US and other nations strongly opposed the ETNO proposal on sender pays. "We continue to believe that their proposal for transfer pricing regimes are a) impractical to implement, b) an inducement for arbitrage and evasion, and c) very likely detrimental to internet users around the world including those in the developing world," he said. "Making content generation more costly and uneconomical will likely lead many small businesses and non-profits to restrict or charge for downloads - even leading to 'blackouts' in less-developed countries due to high termination charges." Kramer's full remarks are here and here.]

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