Notebaert: Qwest Wont Block Content, but It Will Charge

Richard Notebaert, chairman and CEO of Qwest Communications International Inc., told a large audience at his keynote speech at the VON Spring 2006 conference in San Jose, Calif., that Qwest will step up to net neutrality.

He added that Qwest will not block anything on the Internet.

As for the four Internet freedoms articulated by many in the VoIP community freedom to access any legal content, freedom to use any service on the Internet, freedom to attach any device to the network that does not damage the network and the ability to know exactly the terms of service for Internet access Notebaert said, Those four Internet freedoms, I think we ought to go back and look at what those principles are.

However, the Qwest CEO tempered his remarks, saying net neutrality, does not prevent you from reaching commercial agreements to provide services.

Notebaert described commercial agreements with content providers that wish to gain advantageous delivery of their services. Some proponents of net neutrality, he said, say it is unfair for content providers to pay for delivery of content when our customer already is paying. Thats not true. The customer is paying for 56k or for 1.5 megabits.

Some have criticized telco deals with content providers because they give some content providers an advantage over those who do not want to provide different services. Well, yeah. They are all trying to get some differentiation.

He added, As an industry, we have always provided faster service and better SLAs for those who wish to purchase them. This gives the purchaser a competitive edge. There is nothing about a content provider that is different from any other customer. If they dont want to buy, they dont have to buy.

Notebaert cited 800 numbers as an example of such a service.

A residential customer pays for ability to place all their calls, but that does not mean that a business not pay for the ability to offer this special service, he said.

Further, there is no need for government to get involved in net neutrality, Notebaert said.

If a company wants to buy more service, would we ask the government to get involved? If LL Bean wants to differentiate themselves, will we go to the government to regulate that? He added, My job has never been to degrade service or to give a customer less capacity than they asked for and paid for. How could you want to degrade service or not provide service for those willing to pay for it?

Notebaert concluded, Where we think this ought to go is to let customers and commercial agreements address this issue.

Qwest Communications International Inc.


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