Arjuna Sathiaseelan – [email protected]
Recent weeks have witnessed constant media attention surrounding Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’ s plans to dismantle the 2015 FCC Open Internet Order  that mandates “net neutrality” – that all internet content be treated equally. The order banned operators from throttling traffic and prohibited operators from offering so called “fast lanes” to organisations willing to pay extra to reach consumers more quickly than competitors. FCC’s argument was that repealing net neutrality will offer consumers tiered plans, with greater ability to choose an Internet access plan that meets the consumer’s needs. FCC argues that in the last two years the 2015 order has stifled innovation and has delayed deployment of new services due to the “heavy handed utility style” regulatory environment dictated by the 2015 order leading to fallen broadband investments . This has led to widespread criticisms from net neutrality purists, who believe that all Internet traffic should be treated equally. Their concern is that network operators prioritising certain applications or services could provide an unfair market advantage to larger service providers, while shutting out smaller firms.
The net neutrality debate certainly applies to the Internet economies in the West, but it’s yet to be seen whether the same goes for emerging economies where there is little local competition in the first place. These economies suffer from local monopoly or oligopoly due to lack of competition – a main reason for inflated internet access costs. High Internet access subscription costs is one of the major reasons cited for why only 51% of the world’s population are online i.e. ~3 billion people without Internet access.
Providing a means for new firms to enter the market in a fair manner can create the right environment leading to reduced costs – but this requires a better regulatory environment too. The need for a free and open Internet has led to several calls to “end our reliance on big telecom monopolies and build decentralized, affordable, locally owned Internet infrastructure” .
Ammbr’s vision is to build the world’s largest fully decentralised, self-sustainable, wireless mesh telecommunications network using blockchain technology. Using this network, Ammbr will compete with centralised legacy telecommunications distribution models to provide universal fast Internet access. Ammbr combines wireless advances with the emerging technology of blockchain to bridge the last-mile gap that traditional cable and telecom wireless systems handle poorly.
Specific reasons why Ammbr will adhere to the net neutrality rules providing a free and open Internet:
- Ammbr provides a fully decentralised and distributed last mile access where all Ammbr node providers are owners of the network with no centralized control. The Ammbr infrastructure will be federated by a Decentralised Autonomous Organisation (DAO) that resides in every node ensuring the Ammbr network provides access to both local and global services in a free (freedom) and open manner. The DAO will thus ensure that every node in the Ammbr network fulfills these mandatory rules. Any node that does not comply to the rules set by the DAO, will be not be able to participate in the consensus process and will be eventually removed from the network.
- The mesh capabilities of the Ammbr network ensures that there are multiple paths for accessing both the local and global Internet services.
- Freedom and openness is also promoted in terms of open collaboration, open access and open participation – through Ammbr Foundation’s (a non profit foundation) motivation to open source both the hardware and the software of the Ammbr technology. This enables anyone to adopt our technology and be part of the Ammbr network utilizing their own adaptations and implementations.
- Ammbr’s strong collaboration and partnership with community network operators such as guifi.net in Catalunya (the world’s largest community network in the world), Ninux in Italy etc ensures the commitment with neutrality, freedom and open access to Internet and its services are always preserved.
As a last mile infrastructure, Ammbr will provide neutral, free and open Internet access. However, Ammbr does not have any control of the backhaul or the core of the Internet – where certain restrictions might be placed for accessing specific content e.g. Internet censorship in certain countries. Ammbr has to abide by the legal rules and regulations set by the governments. This also leads to interesting challenges that Ammbr must address – the decentralization of both the access and service infrastructures will enable any content/services to run on an Ammbr network. Thus the DAO rules should ensure that the Ammbr network and its services are always federated according to country specific rules and regulations.
- FCC Releases Open Internet Order, https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-releases-open-internet-order, March 2015.
- Restoring Internet Freedom, FCC Fact Sheet, November 2017.
- To Save Net Neutrality, We Must Build Our Own Internet, https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/7x4y8a/net-neutrality-fcc-community-networks, November 2017.