Results tagged “net neutrality myths”

October 31, 2017 11:58 AM

Note: Net Neutrality Zombie Apocalypse Has Not Hit Portugal

A few months ago, we debunked the "Internet Will Be Like Cable" myth that net neutrality "activists" (Google/FB funded 3d parties) have loved to spread since the beginning.  Yet, today being Halloween, the net neutrality crowd has been flooding Twitter with a "spooky" modern day fake news version of Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast.  This time, though, instead of an alien landing, the "news" is that the "internet is already like cable...in Portugal!"


To support their claim they reference a Quartz Media article (though there is another on PC Gamer).  Digging deeper, however, the only citation in either that contains anything directly related to Portugal is a link to a tech website article (in Portuguese) from July.

The Portuguese article questions if Vodafone (another mobile telecom/ISP competing in Portugal) will offer "SmartNet" mobile packages like those launched by mobile operator MEO (the mobile unit of Portugal Telecom now owned by Altice) this past April.  Far from supporting the scare stories, this article notes that the new packages offered by MEO are a further attempt to tailor offerings to best meet consumer needs--and to "bet on" demand that has, so far, gone unmet and thereby reap the rewards.

Having apparently not read the source material, net neutrality advocates still jump to their usual conclusions that: 1) this is the only way consumers in Portugal can buy internet service, and that 2) it only "hurts" applications providers, like Google/Facebook.  In other words, they revert to the original "internet will be like cable" nightmare fantasy.

Only "Nightmare" Is Portuguese Consumers Getting Better Service through Competition

The actual facts reveal that mobile operators appear to be competing to give consumers more, not less, options.  And, of course, a quick perusal of the actual service offerings available to consumers confirms that this is exactly what is happening in Portugal.  Three facilities-based providers currently operate in Portugal (a country of 10 million people): MEO (a play on "meu" or "mine"), Vodafone, and NOS (a play on "nós" or "us/we"). 

MEO offers 4 basic mobile plans with some amount of "unlimited" calling, SMS, and/or data use, ranging from the cheapest (about $13/month) to the most expensive ($57/month).  The cheapest plan (with voice/SMS) comes with 500mbs of mobile internet service and the most expensive plan offers 30gbs--with which the consumer can use to access the whole internet.  But, if a customer only wants mobile internet service, she has the option to purchase 10gbs of service (to the "whole" internet) for about $18.00/month (offer here).    

MEO also offers consumers--with any mobile internet plan--the ability to get "SmartNet" packages with an additional 10gbs of the applications they use most (e.g., video or social networks) for an additional €4.99 ($5.80)/month. In other words, the "tiered" graphic that "scary news" articles are using to show the "cable" apocalypse was finally upon us, is in fact merely a bunch of mini "binging" packages (similar to T-Mobile's popular "binge on" promotion). 

What about the other providers?  Although none of the other operators offers anything like the "SmartNet" mini-binging tiers, if a customer only wants mobile Internet service (& no calling/SMS), NOS offers an unlimited data package for €15/month ($17.40), with a 12 month contract (€25 ($29) w/no contract).  Likewise, Vodafone offers mobile internet packages of 5GB/10GB/30GB for €10/12.50/15/month (w/12 month contract). 

The obvious conclusion is that--without net neutrality--Portuguese consumers have plenty of options for plenty of bandwidth (at very attractive price points) with which to access the "whole" Internet.  The inclusion of limited "binging" bundles of applications is hardly the scary nightmare being peddled by net neutrality activists.  Instead, it's a rather natural competitive response to attract consumer interest, which we should expect more of, in a market not weighed down by unnecessary regulation.

The Final Irony

The scary fake news stories circulating about MEO's "SmartNet" packages would have you believe that offers like these are only possible without net neutrality rules--like the ones adopted by the Wheeler FCC in 2015.   However, had the net neutrality advocates (again) checked the source material, they would see that the FCC's current definition of broadband internet access service ("BIAS") does not prohibit carriers from offering curated internet service packages.  

If this story makes your Halloween less fun because it's less scary, I apologize. However, I do wish all of you a happy and safe Halloween...boo!