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Net neutrality is indeed an ongoing debate.
My concern is that as Governments continue to redirect their meagre resources to invest in
broadband networks, content providers such as facebook, google, yahoo,
youtube are the main beneficiaries. John Thorne, Verizon Senior Vice
President and deputy general counsel
is quoted as saying that “Network
builders (read African governments) are spending a fortune constructing
and maintaining the networks that Google intends to ride on with
nothing but cheap servers. It is enjoying a free lunch that should, by
rational account, be the lunch of the facilities providers.”

Should governments in Africa consider net neutrality?

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Replies to This Discussion

I think they (govt's) should strongly consider it and possibly design a framework on how to collaborate. Google for instance runs on extremely cheap servers (Mainboard, Processor and Memory in a stack with no enclosure) yet they are the largest content distributor or channel. In a multi-platform environment such as the one in Kenya Internet access is not only available on your PC, but on other devices such as your smart-phone and other low end cell phones. The government has benefited immensely from the revenue earned from the expansion and network modernization by the various carrier networks. In the recent past the Kenyan government has also invested heavily in infrastructure development (ICT).
After all this is said and done where do Kenyans go to first when online? to Check their G-mail or to update their status on at least two social networking sites.

Twitter and Facebook (The most common locally) have not (at least in my knowledge) invested a single dime in infrastructure development in Kenya yet they benefit the most when we have broadband access to view their content!
However Google in Kenya set up a digital village on trial basis in a remote location 200Km S.W of Nairobi. The aim If i recall correctly was to see if access to the internet would influence a communities lifestyle. If Google continues with such projects and making broadband internet accessible in remote ares then that would be not a bad start.
The reality however is that Google's core business is not setting up Digital villages but making Google accessible to you if you have an internet connection :)
Network Neutrality! The perspectives been shade. The complaint by the senior VP is in all demeanour morally gross. It is an opinion here that a statement such as that merely stinks to the heavens!

East African Governments should be thankful to the likes of Google, Facebook, other applications developers for demonstrating other commercial viabilities in networks, drawing multitudes of users to "their" networks, making networks meaningful and usable to the masses in the form of free e-mail accounts, social platforms, listservs, market places name them. Recent East African cases in point involve Safaricom, and Banks' M-Kesho in Kenya, and free Facebook access in MTN mobiles in Uganda. More people are now using the networks! The network has been put to use other than leaving it redundant.

Governments should take a deeper look into the question of network neutrality. All corridors of reason should look into the discourse of network neutrality. Government should ensure Network Neutrality. Application developers and network usage should be protected from network builders.

Mwende, thanks for bringing up NN for East Africa's analysis. It is high time network builders realises that the applications that run on the network have become more valuable and potent than the network its self. Cheers
Thank you for this post Sammy and Henry. My contention though is the use of foreign content on government subsidized networks. Network operators opposed to the proposed net neutrality rules seek to limit commoditization of their networks and avoid congestion by charging for data consumption by volume. The charging of a premium for higher QoS provision in terms of higher capacity and better service quality provides an incentive for the investment in network upgrades.

If networks subsized by government seek to charge extra for certain access to services these services would be expensive and unaffordable. In my opinion, East African governments may overcome this challenge by increasing investment in the developing applications to deliver public services that would inevitably lead to increased local content. That would make the subsidy granted to network deployment worthwhile.

• Marsden, C. 2010 Net Neutrality: Towards a Co-Regulatory Solution. Accessed [2 June 2010]
• Lange, P (2008) Net Neutrality l [Accessed 2 June 2010]
On another note Mwende Communication is a Universal right, however governments must make every effort to educate the populace on the importance of paying for quality since nothing exists really for free, however we have to start somewhere, i suppose our challenge might have been poorly defined policy frameworks, private sector involvement in policy formulation may not be at its best in our region in terms of providing input and i suppose that is why the Multi-stakeholderism aspect of internet governance is relevant in this day and age, to try and ensure that the public, private and civil society, plus any other constituencies are able to put their concerns on the table and see how they get a share of the pie, i wouldnt blame foreign networks because they see opportunities and they grab them what i would suggest is a radical shift in thinking for instance, having a national transport company say Kenya Bus Servicesm with a defined program would allow applications to be developed on the internet, this would force the populace to log onto the internet to check Bus Schedules, by extension people will also start applying utilising online public services, with the example of the bus, Google maps can then feed in and become relevant, this will ultimately spur and explosion of various internet based businesses




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