The ITU’s upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) could have dire implications for global economic growth and development. Proposed revisions to the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) could fundamentally change the way the Internet works, diminishing the positive impact of the Internet on economies around the globe. Certain treaty proposals would exacerbate the global digital divide by increasing the cost of sending traffic over the network and inhibiting nations from adopting network neutrality rules. Such extreme revisions to the treaty could change the economics of the Internet by shackling it to the rules and operating principles of twentieth-century telecommunications systems.
One proposal makes an audacious bid to replace the proven system for sending Internet traffic with a “sender pays” telecommunications model that pre-dates the World Wide Web. Through increasing costs and constraining traffic flows, this proposal would rein in the Internet’s ability to drive business, social change, and innovation. And it could limit its global reach by fracturing the network into the Internet equivalent of gated communities. CDT’s new paper, Economic Impact of the ITRs, outlines how some of the proposed revisions to the regulations may have significant and far-reaching consequences on economic growth and development around the globe.