Members of global advocacy group Avaaz stand next to a digital counter showing the number of petition signatures calling for net neutrality outside the Federal Communication Commission in Washington. (Kevin Wolf, Images for Avaaz, AP)
Cape Town – Vumatel is intent on building net neutral fibre broadband networks as it races to roll out infrastructure in South Africa.
“Our philosophical view is that it has to be neutral – not to prioritise traffic over other traffic,” Niel Schoeman CEO of Vumatel told Fin24 at the AfricaCom tech show in Cape Town this week.
Network neutrality has emerged as a key discussion point as some providers lobby for internet fast lanes that would prioritise traffic.
In SA, providers have long used throttling or shaping of internet access as a strategy to deal with contention on networks especially with rich media such as video.
“The reason this is happening is I think the network is constrained to a large degree and therefore they need to find strategies in making certain services function the way it’s intended to like over the top and high definition streaming,” Schoeman said of the practice.
READ: OpenWeb offers unshaped internet access
Vumatel said that it was not a content provider, but instead would focus on the delivery of infrastructure that supported an open network.
“It’s very unsexy to say that we’re a dumb pipe but we are fundamentally a dumb pipe and I think we want to be the pipes that everybody can feed their services over and over the top services is one of those services,” Schoeman said.
He added that fibre broadband networks offer a significant speed difference from ADSL networks which are often hampered by contention issues.
“At the moment we provide a gigabit per second [1gbps] and in theory we can go way more than that because the data is travelling at the speed of light. It’s really just the pumps that you put on the end of these pipes is what the constraint of capacity is.”
The speed of fibre broadband networks makes the practice of shaping or throttling data redundant, Schoeman argued.
“The speed is now of such a nature that they don’t need to do that. It costs them more to try and do that on fibre because the fibre just works. Traffic stays in the network for such a short space of time that they don’t need to do that anymore and to manage that is a higher cost for them.”
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