Tata: 'No net neutrality in mobile broadband'

Mobile data on iPad

Mobile networks are cracking under the strain of increasing volumes of rich data.

To tackle this issue, executives from Tata Communications believe there needs to be some level of content prioritisation, enabling paying users or content providers to stream without delays, whilst still allowing standard mobile services to function.

During a keynote speech at the company's Analyst and Media Summit in Dubai, Allan Chan, executive vice president of mobility services for Tata, said: "Operators are currently doing fairly crude things to cover the strain, such as capping high data users [and] throttling."

"Those [methods] won't match what a consumer wants so they are on a collision course."

He claimed networks needed to move to "service-based broadband," which would enable either content providers to charge for spotless streaming of videos or users to download high quality gaming, at an extra price.

Of course, this raises the issue of net neutrality. Over the past two years, the debate has been raging as to whether ISPs could prioritise different fixed broadband traffic to ensure high performance for rich websites.

However, there was a rebellion, with even the likes of the BBC saying it was unfair to outfits unable to pay p the prices the providers were likely to charge for preferential treatment.

When the issue was raised with Chan though, he answered by saying: "There isn't net neutrality on mobile networks yet."

John Landau, senior vice president of technology and services evolution at Tata, backed up his colleague. "Net neutrality was a fixed [broadband] concept and for mobile networks it is fair usage," he said.

"Your mobile provider doesn't want you to turn off, but from a fair usage perspective they are going to want to manage the media streams to give you a better experience. The network guys will never have enough bandwidth, with spectrum issues and everything else."

He added: "You want to keep the customer but you may have to adapt for certain services, such as companies wanting to deploy desktop on smartphone, a premium game or another media stream."

Landau claimed fair usage "gives a better deal to the consumer than net neutrality" but said regulation needed to ensure providers didn't have too much control. "Net neutrality is a great concept to ensure you don't end up with a walled garden, keeping people out," he added. "Most providers understand that... but you don't want to keep that [forsaking] customer experience."

Both executives concluded fair usage was necessary for mobile networks to handle the continual growth of data, whilst still giving the customer a network which performs.

You can read more news from the Tata Communications Summit on our sister title Cloud Pro.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.