Kenya opposes internet rules review

By Semaj Itosno, Nairobi, Kenya

Kenya will not support a review of the Internet’s governing rules and economic model, which were originally agreed onin Melbourne 25 years ago.

On Tuesday next week, 193 telecommunication regulatory bodies will converge on Dubai to review  the regulations.

The review of the regulations and economic model has split the member countries into two. One group supports the change of the law, which if adopted will see content providers pay for the service.  The other wants the status quo to remain.

Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) and senior officials at the Ministry of Information will represent the country at the meeting, where they will oppose the review.

Information Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo, said today that Kenya is not supporting the review, because it will stifle innovation and make internet access more expensive.

“ITU should stick with regulating telecoms industry and leave out the internet, as expanding its mandate to start regulating it will stifle innovation, especially in the Third World countries which are the beneficiaries of such content,” said Dr Ndemo. “Our constitution guarantees freedom of information through the Bill of Rights which would also be threatened if the proposal is adopted.”

Those supporting the review such as the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association  (ETNO) which drives broadband growth in Europe have based their argument on Article 3 of the Melbourne treaty which says:

“Operating Agencies shall endeavour to provide sufficient telecommunications facilities to meet requirements of, and demand for, international telecommunication services. For this purpose,  and to ensure an adequate return on investment in high bandwidth infrastructures, operating agencies shall negotiate commercial agreements to achieve a sustainable system of fair compensation for telecommunications services and, where appropriate, respecting the principle of sending party network pays.”

In the current arrangement it is the receiver who pays for the content and the delivery, and network quality is not guaranteed.

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