ITU Must Include Peering/Transit Costs in Affordability Analysis

My comments to U.S. State Department ITAC group. One of the issues at the ITU is whether the cost of peering/transit should be part of the discussion on affordability of access. Africans tell me this is perhaps the largest single impediment to bringing down the cost of the Internet in Africa. Backhaul is 10x the cost in Europe or the U.S., only a small part of which is due to the cost of undersea cables. I infer a (weak) cartel and strongly urge the ITU to produce the data to convince anyone objective something should be done.

Some people are trying to exclude this from the development agenda. They come from countries with companies that benefit from high transit prices. (Surprise.) By accident, I’m on the U.S. State Department International Telecommunications Advisory Committee and wrote this. By my choice, I do not report what anyone else says at that committee. This is my opinion.  

On Peering

Carlos Slim at the Broadband Commission told me $50 mobile phone prices will allow two billion more people to connect, a goal i know we all share. Since then, I’ve looked closely at the actual cost factors delivering Internet to the poor in emerging nations. I also discussed it with numerous people at ITU Busan. (Article below) Peering/transit costs appear the largest single international issue in affordability in Africa especially, as I report below. According to an African at the Busan Plenipot, the saving from reducing peering/transit costs is 5-10x anything likely from IXPs. Several Africans saw peering/transit costs as a key issue and welcome ITU involvement.  

It is extremely disrespectful for the U.S. to oppose the Africans getting the actual data on peering/transit, especially since U.S. companies are profiting. 

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