Can net neutrality survive 5G?

BARCELONA—A one-size-fits-all approach to net neutrality will not work in a 5G world, Ericsson CEO Börje Ekholm said on MWC press conference.

“Not all traffic is equal,” he said. “In the 5G future, essential apps such as remote surgery will have priority over other traffic. There should be a statutory arrangement that allows the service provider to create services that are differentiated on the basis of the experiences of users.”

Here is Ekholm problem: he is Swedish. So he’s probably thinking about reasonable governments that operate on the basis of a kind of social consensus, not fully broken politics we have in the US.

Our political debate on net neutrality is currently see-sawing between the extremes of the “Isps should be allowed to provide their clients into debt bondage!” and “Isps may not the form of the traffic.” when the reality on the ground is a lot more complicated, especially if you have the mobile networks, which is not neutral.

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“We can’t discriminate on the basis of content or degrade performance,” Ekholm said, “but I think that there is a mission-critical use cases that need to be considered and not otherwise. External surgery there is one. You can allow the traffic to have priority? I can’t see that. That is probably the reason why we need a different type of regulations here.”

While North America is helping drive early 5G development by more high-band available spectrum, Ekholm said, that lead could shrink if North American regulators do not have more mid-band spectrum for 5G, ” he said.

In this analyst’s view, an inconsistent approach and a lack of trust between the government, the industry, and the people can be the biggest obstacle of all.

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