Imagine if Comcast owned iHeartradio, the New York Times, and AT&T. And in many places, your only option for an Internet Service Provider is Comcast. Your news would be provided by Comcast. Your cable TV: Comcast. Your favorite radio stations: also Comcast. Scary, right? Yet, that is exactly what will happen in South America’s second largest economy, Argentina, if the proposed merger of Cablevision (the telecom branch of Grupo Clarín, Argentina’s largest media conglomerate) and Telecom (one of the two telecommunications companies resulting from the privatization of Argentina’s national monopoly in 1990) goes through.
The average South Korean can choose between three major private internet providers –SKT, KT and LG U+ – and pay less than $30 a month for the fastest internet in the world. That’s $17 less than what the average American pays for a much slower internet hookup. But why? How is it possible that the citizens of the last developed democracy have a faster and more affordable internet than Americans? The simple answer to this question is that in the 1990s South Koreans decided that their country needed a fast and affordable internet provided by a vibrant private sector, and there was the political willingness, and a national plan, to achieve that goal.
We all hate running out of mobile internet data. The solution? Unlimited mobile data plans that are usually too expensive for the average consumer, or in many places simply not available. In these circumstances, zero-rating (where a network operator offers unlimited data for specific applications or services) may appear to be an appealing answer. But, as economists like to say, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
Last week, Public Knowledge concluded the third iteration of its Spanish-language Open Internet Course for digital rights advocates in Latin America. The online course, presented in collaboration with Peer 2 Peer University, began in 2015 as an open sourced and open licensed capacity building project. Its goal is to train, inform, and support advocates and policymakers to effectively engage in technology policy discussions and push for greater transparency and accountability in the policymaking process.
Yesterday, April 26, was World Intellectual Property Day. However, in many countries we see extremist proposals to expand copyright and intellectual property, which benefit only a handful of rightholders at the expense of the rest of society. That´s why, together with 13 civil society organizations from the Americas, we published an open letter calling on our governments to protect innovation, preserve fair access to technology and internet freedom, and use copyright to promote social justice.