Thursday, July 22, 2010

Chile’s Net Neutrality Statute: A Dangerous Experiment

By Jorge Bauermeister, Latino Internet Justice.

After reading several news articles regarding Chile’s net neutrality statute, I proceeded to track down the actual text of it for a careful review. My reaction was one of concern for our brothers down south. Chile has embarked on a very dangerous journey with the approval of this statute, and the FCC and U.S. Congress should pay careful attention to the results of this dangerous experiment.

Chile is among the first three Latin American nations with the largest uptake rate for broadband services. It has a total population of 16,601,707 (5,959,540 live in Santiago, the capital). As of December 2008, its internet penetration was 50.4%, but only 1,427,200 had broadband connections (fixed and mobile). Cisco, the broadband equipment manufacturer, “reported that Chile closed the year 2009 with a broadband penetration of 10.3 percent, a figure that positions the country in first place in Latin America.” The goal of the fixed and mobile broadband operators is to reach 17.1% by 2015.

With these abysmally low numbers it surprised me that Chile would proceed and enact a statute on such a new topic as net neutrality. The statute mirrors the FCC’s Open Internet Principles, but it goes even farther in authorizing the imposition of fines and penalties for violations of those principles. Assuming the legislation survives the legal challenges that will follow, it will bring problems to the Chilean consumer, and to the goal of ubiquitous broadband penetration.

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