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INTERNATIONAL INTERNET CONNECTIVITY — Are poor countries subsidizing the rich?

The issue of international Internet connectivity has been the subject of debate in different forums prior to the launch of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). When an international telephone call is routed from one country to another, the operator in the country that originates the call has traditionally made a compensatory payment to the operator in the country that terminates the call. For international Internet charging, the system is quite different, based on a so-called “full-circuit” model. At ITU where extensive studies have been carried out since 1998, one conclusion is that “the high costs of the international circuit for Internet connectivity between least developed countries and the Internet backbone networks remains a serious problem for these countries”.

In the context of the on-going debate on Internet governance, a draft working paper has been published for public comment. According to this paper, released by the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG), the jury is still out on “International Charging Arrangements for Internet Services” (ICAIS) — a proposal intended to change Internet connectivity compensation between networks.

ITU News takes a closer look at some of the issues surrounding the high cost of Internet connectivity and bandwidth in developing countries. It then gives an account of ITU work so far on international Internet connectivity and summarizes the WGIG issue paper on “International Internet connections”.



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