On Fri, May 30, 2014 at 5:43 AM, C. Scott Ananian
This is a fascinating discussion, but one which has
been addressed in
much greater depth elsewhere:
It would indeed be interesting to hear EFF's take on the matter, which
does not appear to have been stated publicly yet.
Some related links:
see especially the first comment, which claims that "You[r] concept of
net neutrality is technically, and wildly incorrect. [...] Net
neutrality has *nothing whatsoever* to do with access. Especially
access for poor users. It has to do with service providers being
treated equally and fairly on the *infrastructure* that allows users
access to those services." (I don't know if I actually agree with
this, but it's an interesting distinction.)
And the discussion starting here:
One distinction which has been made in discussions concerns who is
paying for what, and who is profiting.
There are not many ways to make a profit on 'free content' (zero-rated)...
Zero-rating a commercial
service which pays the telecom for the privilege, might be regulated
differently than zero-rating a non-profit service with no money
changing hands. (Does WP Zero actually pay any telecom to be
So how are the telco's making money from WP Zero?
The main reason for ISPs to zero-rate content is because they want to
cache it to lower their interconnect / international traffic costs and
free up their outgoing pipes, and ideally keep their cache in sync
when their pipes are underutilised (i.e. refreshing mirrors when their
customer base is asleep.). The other is because someone with deep
pockets turns up and asks please provide this content for free to your
customers in order to gain access to their customers and prevent
competitors starting up. (i.e. Google and Facebook)
As you say, WMF is not paying these telcos to shove WP down their
So, is WP Zero a caching mechanism?
If not, the Telcos are making a loss.
The concern wrt Telco's who are now in the ISP market, is they are
happy to spend a lot of money to erode the 'Internet' principle of
zero termination fees. They would prefer to charge both 'ends' of
their pipes - content providers and content consumers - as that is
what Telco's are used to doing.
Packaging some content for free, and charging high prices for "the
real internet", encourages the practise of agreements between content
providers and telco's, which of course creates an internet that
favours large content providers and reduces the ability for new
competitors to enter the market.
While 'Wikimedia' is a non-profit, and no money changing hands, we
should be concerned about the long term effects that this will have on
other non-profit free content producers. Do we want our peers in this
space to be having to negotiate with telco's around the world in order
to distribute their free content?
Along the lines of what what Jens Best is saying, I'll believe the
telco's goals are pure when I see them zero-rating Project Gutenberg,
and I'll be sceptical of the WMF's goals so long as it is only
'Wikipedia Zero', and not packaging into the 'zero-rated' agreement
the sister projects like Wiktionary and Commons especially, but also
Wikisource, etc, and ideally these telco's also agree to put the
database dumps on their mirrors too, zero-rated.