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Chile: Issues of Broadband Access and Net Neutrality

This week Chilean bloggers had a heated reaction about the broadband and net neutrality. Senator Fernando Flores declared that we were far along the way as a country, and that this was not an issue for Chileans. Pepe Huerta, who attended a private discussion about broadband and net neutrality, discovered that the general managers of big companies just don’t care about it, and are protecting their investment. The brave act was a posting about this meeting on his blog.

This all started through a meeting called together by País Digital (ES) a foundation that promotes Information Technologies in Chile. The goal of the meeting was to discuss the law proposal concerning broadband and neutrality on the net. The audience was comprised of generalmanagers of the large telecommunications companies and some governmental officials, Senators, and Deputies. As Pepe Huerta (ES) explains, he was able to attend the meeting because he is the assistant of deputy Gonzalo Arenas, who is the sponsor of this two law proposals. Pepe described the conversations of the meeting on his blog. One of the issues exposed was that companies can not use the commercial name broad band in connections lower that 1.5 Mbps, which is the standard of the International Communications Union and is used by most of the developing countries. He explains the reaction of the General Manager of Telefonica Company, the biggest communication company in Chile:

(…) las empresas proveedoras de acceso a Internet no estarían dispuestas a invertir el dinero necesario para lograr otorgar el servicio que la ley exige y que, según el, no puede acotarse el nombre Banda Ancha solo a las velocidades superiores, debido a que históricamente se le denomina Banda Ancha a todas las conexiones no conmutadas (aquellas realizadas por líneas telefónicas comunes).(…)”

The companies that provide internet access will not be willing to invest the necessary money to provide the service that the law requires and the name broadband cannot be limited to those higher speed connections, because historically the word broadband has been given to all the non-commuted connections (connections carried through telephone lines)

Pepe continues explaining his personal view :

Sobre esto, solo puedo comentar que mientras las plataformas físicas que sostienen “los cables” que se utilizan para generar la conexión a Internet sigan siendo de propiedad de un par de grandes empresas, los costos asociados para generar conectividad seguirán siendo elevados, por lo que tampoco existirá competencia ya que es imposible competir con el “dueño de la pelota“. En Chile finalmente, pagamos lo mismo que paga un ciudadano europeo por una conexión diez veces más rápida que las nuestras. ¿Parece coherente?.”

About all this, the only thing I can comment is that while the physical platform that hold “the cables” that are used for the internet connection are still being owned by a few large companies, the cost associated to generate connections will still rise, because it is impossible to compete with the “owners of the ball”. In Chile, we still pay the same amount that a European citizen pays for a connection 10 times faster than ours, Is this consistent?

Regarding the neutrality issue, Pepe explains that the one of the members of VTR, the other main telecommunications company argues that they use filters to protect the users from attacks of hackers and virus on the net.

There are more concerns about these issues, but the main discussion does not center on broadband or net neutrality. There are many blogger reactions about the declarations by Senator Fernando Flores, who led the discussion. Pepe writes:

Creo que la discusión sobre neutralidad en la red debemos dejársela a los Estados Unidos y Europa, Chile no es potencia en desarrollo tecnológico, por lo que no tenemos pa’ que discutirlo

I think we should leave the discussion of net neutrality to the United States and Europe, Chile is not a power in technology development, so why should we have to discuss it.

In regards to blogger reactions to this issue, Flores posts (ES) that he is concerned about the issue of broadband and he has been working a lot on the issue for quite a while, even though there are a lot of people who do not know about the issue. He wrote that Chileans are too immature to be able to participate in the discussion and that we have to wait to see how this issue goes on in Europe and EEUU.

The blog, neutralidadsi (ES), (Pepe's blog) promotes free internet in Chile and asks for support for the new law proposal regarding neutrality on the web. They declared that the Chilean discussion is similar to discussion in the United States: “the internet provider should restrict their themselves only to provide the access and not to allowing privilege or to hinder the access to some content”. He also posts the text of the law proposals.

This is the beginning of a discussion and bloggers will continue to post about for years to come. Atina Chile, one of the biggest and most well-organized online social movements founded by Fernando Flores has promoted the campaign of broadband for all and lately has been meeting with the Chilean Economy Ministry to support OLPC (One Laptop Per Child), here you cand find the news about this issue.

2 comments

  • Thanks for highlighting an important topic that goes to the heart of the irony of Chile’s aspiration to become a developed country.

    The corporations and elite in Chile will always get their slice of the pie before the people.

  • Here is Chile we pay for a certain broadband but we get what ISP want to give us. Also they block our computer ports so we can only use services who used low internet trafic, in a certain way we are scamed everyday

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