Fujitsu EMEIA CEO says governments will act if networks fall behind but feels a discussion on net neutrality is necessary to safeguard IoT innovation
Fujitsu says “human-centric” innovations and the Internet of Things (IoT) won’t be immediately hindered by slow network speeds, claiming that 2Mbps is enough for many applications, but says there needs to be a discussion on Net Neutrality and how it might impact M2M services.
Speaking at the Fujitsu Forum in Munich, the company’s CTO for EMEIA, said that discussions about speed were being driven primarily by demand for entertainment services like IPTV and gaming that require greater bandwidth that simply isn’t necessary for most people.
A point at which innovation was being constrained by slow broadband speeds was unlikely, he argued, because if government’s ever thought there was a problem, they would be forced to act. In the UK, the government has pledged public money towards rural broadband projects like Broadband Delivery UK and Reger said similar initiatives were occurring elsewhere.
Drive for ‘unnecessary’ speed
“This is happening in Germany. It varies from federal state to federal state, but here in Bavaria, there’s a very strong push to provide sufficient bandwidth even in remote locations because the Bavarian government is convinced this is going to be a problem for innovation,” he explained.
“I don’t want to be negative about people who want to watch IPTV but what I’m saying is it’s a different problem of not being able to watch IPTV than not being able to download to your physician a picture of computer tomography he needs to take a look at and analyse.
“As broadband is used more and more for serious business applications and industrial applications – healthcare and so on – and the broadband question comes back, then there will be enormous pressure [on governments to act] and it will happen.
“Until then, you would not believe how much you can do with 2Mbps,” he continued, suggesting that even half that would be good enough, although he drew the line at 512Kbps. “It’s certainly not real time data collection with 1Mbps, but you can do other types of control applications very easily.”
Net Neutrality discussion
Of more immediate concern to this vision of a “hyper-connected world” was the issue of Net Neutrality: the principle that all web traffic should be treated as equal. Reger said IoT applications, such as connected cars, could challenge this.
“I think that we have to redefine what Net Neutrality means,” he said. “If Net Neutrality means that every service in every nation needs to have the same priority all the time, then I think we are running into a problem because of the large number of services, like M2M, coming into the network.
“I’m against that because the quality of some services cannot be guaranteed with the amount of network capacity we have. But, if net neutrality means that the network provider decides arbitrarily who they give preference to and tries to make money on that, then that’s a different matter because I don’t like that.”
Profit v Public service
Net Neutrality has become a controversial topic in recent times, with web services like Netflix, complaining they have to pay additional fees by service providers in the US if they want users to receive a quality of service.
President Obama has come out in favour of Net Neutrality rules, claiming there is a need to protect the Internet’s ‘level playing field’, but equipment providers and carriers say such restrictions will prevent innovation and the development of web services.
Huawei has likened the creation of different levels of service in the broadband market would be no different to how postal services like Royal Mail were able to provide a ubiquitous service across an entire country, but logistics firms such as FedEx were also allowed to enter the market, providing an express one-day delivery service in major cities.
Reger says the ongoing debate surrounding the issue is no different to “any other development in the history of mankind.”
“Society needs to decide whether certain developments are acceptable or not and what do we allow for money and what needs to be a public service,” he said.
What do you know about fibre broadband? Take our quiz!