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Data and More Data: Understanding Why “Fair Share” is an Internet Toll at the FIB

 

Between May 21 and 24, the Internet Governance Forum in Brazil (FIB) took place in Curitiba, organized and promoted by NIC.br and CGI.br. This event discussed internet governance in Brazil and featured extensive discussions on the concept of fair share. 


On FIB Day Zero, ISOC Brasil hosted the panel “Internet Toll? The Impacts of Tolling on Net Neutrality” as part of its Annual Meeting program. Moderated by Raquel Gatto (ISOC Brasil), the panel included Breno Vale (ABRINT), Mozart Tenório (Anatel), Flávia Lefèvre (CDR), and João Victor Archegas (ITS Rio).


On the final day of the event, the panel titled “Fair Share in the Telecommunications Sector: Challenges and Perspectives of Cost Sharing for Network Expansion” was organized by the Legal Grounds Institute. The speakers included Alessandro Molon (AIA), Camila Tapias (Telefônica Brasil), Carlos Baigorri (Anatel), Paula Bernardi (ISOC), and Ricardo Campos (Legal Grounds). Full discussions are available on YouTube.


One of the most notable statements came from the president of Anatel, Carlos Baigorri. He asserted that the discussions surrounding the fair share debate are inadequately technical and are often presented as “narratives permeated with misinformation,” such as the term “Internet toll.” He emphasized that this is not a political issue but a purely technical one.


However, it is crucial to note that the “Internet Toll” introduces technical and objective elements to the debate. Here are some of them:


The Problem is Not Data Volume: Technical studies by Analysys Mason indicate that 80% to 90% of telecommunications network costs are unrelated to high data traffic volumes. Thus, the primary justification for regulatory intervention is unfounded. No data supports the claim that high data volume poses risks to digital infrastructure.


Disproportionate Consumer Impact: In South Korea, where the “fair share” policy was implemented in 2016, internet access rates have surged over the years. Currently, internet costs are eight times higher than in London and ten times higher than in Frankfurt. Popular providers unable to compete without degrading service quality have exited the market, as seen with Twitch.


Funding is Sufficient, Even in Brazil: According to the Federal Court of Auditors (TCU), users of telecommunications services in Brazil have contributed to the Telecommunications Services Universalization Fund (Fust) since 2001. Over the years, over 25 billion reais have been collected, yet less than 1% has been invested in telecommunications policies.

These technical details highlight a reality, not a narrative: introducing “network fees” effectively creates an “Internet toll,” diminishing the quality of digital services and favoring major players in the telecommunications infrastructure market. The primary impact of a “cost-sharing” policy is on the end user, who may lose access to diverse, high-quality content and face progressively higher costs.


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