IGF 2023 WS #269 ‘Network fees’ proposals: perspectives from around the world


Avoiding Internet Fragmentation
International Legal Perspectives
Technical challenges of Internet fragmentation

Organizer 1: Jean-Jacques Sahel, 🔒Google
Organizer 2: Kyung Sin Park, Open Net
Organizer 3: Thomas Lohninger, 🔒epicenter.works

Speaker 1: Lise Fuhr, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Katsuyasu Toyama, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Kyung Sin Park, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 4: Thomas Lohninger, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: Bruna Santos, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Jean-Jacques Sahel, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group

Online Moderator

Chenie Yoon, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group


Jean-Jacques Sahel, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group


Round Table - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

A. Is there a problem with network deployment that can be addressed by charging Content & Application Providers and others who upload content onto the Internet ?
B. What would be the technical, economic and policy / legislative impact of introducing payments by content providers to ISPs for delivering traffic requested by end-users, including for users and content creators in the developing world?
C. What public policy approaches may be suited to address concerns about expanding connectivity and supporting user adoption around the world?

What will participants gain from attending this session? Participants will get a better understanding of the issue, and of its ramifications for the Internet ecosystem, notably the risk of fragmentation of the global Internet into more centralised local Internet spaces, with negative implications for network resilience and the diversity of content and voices available online.
They will understand how this relates to similar debates in the past, such as during the 2012 WCIT conference where a similar proposal was firmly rejected by governments and other stakeholders, and to the concept of ‘Sender Party Pays’ which underpinned how the telegraph and telephony were designed in the 19th century. They will be able to exchange on constructive ways to extend the benefits of the Internet to all and avoid a digital divide in future.


Recently there have been calls including in South Korea and the EU for new approaches to support investment in next generation connectivity, notably by introducing a contribution to the network infrastructure by online content providers.

The justification is that shifting value to network operators would enable them to increase investment in network infrastructure, at a time when a number of countries are still working on deploying infrastructure such as fibre and 5G. This is not a totally new idea, but its proponents argue that the context has changed, with data traffic continuing to grow every year, and the place of digital technology and services in our economy only increasing.

Stakeholders from across the Internet value chain, policymakers, academics, the technical community and civil society, have been debating such a proposal and its implications for the Internet, its technical functioning, competition, net neutrality, consumer prices, content creation and digitisation.

The workshop gathers private sector, technical community, academia and civil society experts to exchange with the multi-stakeholder audience on the perceived problems and possible solutions, the practicalities of putting such proposal in place, and its impacts the impacts. They will discuss how to foster the further deployment of high speed Internet access around the world, and to encourage its adoption by end-users and organisations, contributing to digitisation and long term socio-economic welfare.

Expected Outcomes

The Workshop expects to receive valuable multi-stakeholder input to inform - and potentially even offer constructive and mutually beneficial solutions to - the current policy and legislative debates which are taking place around the world on this issue, including official consultations in both the EU and Brazil. This will be important in order to raise awareness of the global Internet Governance community, including the technical community and civil society, on the nature and ramifications of the debates taking place currently.
It will also be relevant to the long-standing work of the IGF Dynamic Coalition on Net Neutrality and associated workstreams, and inform discussions on the risks of fragmentation of the global Internet.

Hybrid Format: The workshop will have an onsite and an online moderator to facilitate the workshop. They are responsible for moderating the onsite and online speakers and attendees. Both moderators will ensure all speakers and participants, regardless of their modes of participation, will have opportunities and be encouraged to engage, raise questions and provide inputs at the workshop.
The workshop will commence with speaker / SME remarks and presentations. Upon completion the facilitator will ask policy questions to facilitate active discussions. In order to ensure both offline and online participants to actively engage in the discussions, the workshop will secure ample time (Q&A session will be 30 minutes+) to ask questions to the speakers / SMEs and provide inputs to the discussion.

Online participants will be actively encouraged to pose questions and make comments. The onsite and online moderator will summarize the findings and recommendations of the workshop and compile future actions.