Singapore’s stance on Net neutrality similar to US

  • AseanPlus News
  • Saturday, 23 Dec 2017

SINGAPORE: Even as American regulators decided last week to repeal rules that ensure Internet service providers (ISPs) do not create “fast and slow lanes” for online traffic, Singapore’s take on the issue shares some similarities with that of the United States.

Legal and Internet experts said that Singapore does not strictly follow the definition of what is called Net neutrality.

Adopting Net neutrality principles means ISPs should not make access to certain websites slower on purpose, or charge users extra to access specific online content.

On Dec 14, the US’ telecoms and Internet regulator, the Federal Com­munications Commission, voted to repeal Net neutrality rules implemented in 2015. The removal of the rules is expected to happen only later, if other American lawmakers do not block the move.

Singapore's position on such rules is that it allows some form of Internet traffic slowdown – similar to what is expected in the US – but only under certain conditions, said the Internet Society's regional bureau director for Asia-Pacific, Rajnesh Singh.

Tanya Tang, chief economic and policy adviser at law firm Rajah & Tann, said the revised US position on Net neutrality is “very similar” to the position currently taken by Singapore's Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA), which regulates telecoms and Internet policy here.

“Today, there is already no prohibition in Singapore against throttling or paid prioritisation, where these do not harm competition or end users’ interests,” said Tang.

So, she does not foresee the US decision having a significant impact on ISPs in Singapore.

IMDA said there are no plans to revise its current stance on Net neutrality, which was put out in a White Paper in 2011.

Throttling, or slowing down the Internet speeds of users, is possible but, unlike in the US, can be done only under specific scenarios such as managing Internet traffic.

This can entail slowing down the speeds of heavy Internet users who hog so much bandwidth that other Web users experience slowdowns. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

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