Thursday, September 28, 2006 - The Progress & Freedom Foundation Blog

Media Regulation and Net Neutrality

If you want any more evidence of the dangers posed by Europe's proposed Audiovisual Media Services Directive, commonly known as a reform of TV Without Frontiers, the 174-page RAND Europe study released by the U.K.'s Ofcom should be more than sufficient. As Adam has already noted, the report is a damming indictment, and is full of data, solid academic reasoning and in-depth examinations of various industries and business models that could be negatively impacted. I've written about the difficulties of distinguishing between linear and non-linear services, and the report addresses that in a concrete way, also addressing how that distinction could have an artificial influence on business model development and funding. I particularly liked their value-chain-analysis approach to the various industries using Michael Porter's Five Forces Model.

This analysis also led to a discussion, however brief, of net neutrality, particularly through the study's analysis of 2.0 business models and quality-of-service issues. Take this from the executive summary:

As business models develop, so does the possibility of quantifying and analysing their response to regulation in more detail and with more certainty. Regulation includes changes to current regulated pricing and classification of content, so the interplay between content regulation and content pricing is, in our view, an essential area for future research.

That passage has a footnote that states the following:

The interviewees in this project have indicated that Quality of Service on the Internet is a complex issue and that net neutrality needs greater analysis in order to ascertain the real investment options that can drive content and network investment in Web 2.0 and next-generation network futures.

Here's hoping the various European Commission committees that are reviewing the Directive read this RAND Europe report closely. Here's also hoping Ofcom or some similar entity commissions RAND Europe to do a study on net neutrality, regulation and quality of service.

posted by Patrick Ross @ 3:22 PM | Broadband , Communications , Innovation , Internet , Mass Media , Net Neutrality