Speaking at the 11th Capacity Caribbean Conference in Puerto Rico, David Geary, General Counsel for Digicel Caribbean, compared the debate on Net Neutrality to that of Brexit in the United Kingdom.
In his presentation, he outlined that no one really knows what either Brexit or Net Neutrality means as both mean different things to different people, and like the debate about ‘Soft Brexit’ and ‘Hard Brexit,’ some people are in favour of very extreme Net Neutrality – or ‘Hard Net Neutrality’ rules. “‘Hard Net Neutrality’ will be very damaging to the Caribbean,” said David Geary, during the panel discussion on the topic.
‘Soft Net Neutrality’ rules protect consumers, ensuring that there is no blocking of internet content. ‘Hard Net Neutrality’ rules go too far and are an attempt by Internet giants like Google to impose rules on the internet that suit them but put local companies at a disadvantage. “Instead of copying other regions, the Caribbean needs to decide what is best for Caribbean consumers to promote jobs and investment in the region,” Geary continues.
He welcomed the case for co-regulation recently presented by the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL), and also praised the leadership of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) on its initiative to formalise the partnership between industry, government and regulators by launching the Caribbean ICT Collaboration Committee. This Committee will consider all of the priorities of the Caribbean and propose the best approach to Net Neutrality for the Caribbean. It is due to produce these recommendations in 2017.
“The Caribbean region needs to be at the centre of the new digital economy and we cannot afford to sit back while jobs and investment go to other parts of the world,” closed Geary.
Moderated by Teresa Wankin, Secretary General Manager for CANTO, other members of the panel at the Capacity Caribbean Conference included Giovanni King, COO, Bureau Telecommunicatie En Post Curacao and Shermon Osepa, Manager, Regional Affairs for Latin America & Caribbean Internet Society.