Micromax300x112A 5% compulsory license. From Africa and from Asia, I've heard many calls to keep royalties fair. Corporate giants like Cisco and Intel, who collect relatively few royalties, quietly agree. Royalties paid in poor nations overwhelmingly flow to rich countries, not a good result. If those royalties are high, so much the worse. 

See Fairness for Africa: Cheaper Transit, Reasonable Royalties, Fair Taxes

America has been the strongest supporter of high royalties, partly because of a patent system unprepared for goods like cellphones with literally hundreds of claims. That is starting to change, as Chinese companies, particularly Huawei, are now filing more patents than the U.S. giants. The U.S. share of patents is about 25% and falling. We will soon have a negative balance on patent accounts. 

Carlos Slim of Telmex tells me that $50 smartphones will result in two billion more people connected. But $50 smartphones are impossible with the level of royalties demanded by powerful companies. 

Here's the Open Letter I just received from Rohini Lakshané of India's Centre for Internet and Society.

Dear Dave,

Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi,

After the government introduced the "Make in India" and "Digital India" programmes, the air is thick with the promise of reduced imports, new jobs, and goods for the domestic market. In light of the patent wars in India, the government can ill-afford to overlook the patent implications in indigenously manufactured mobile phones. CIS proposes that the Government of India initiate the formation of a patent pool of critical mobile technologies and a five percent compulsory license.

We at the Centre for Internet and Society support the "Make in India" and "Digital India" initiatives of the Indian government and share your vision of a digitally empowered India where “1.2 billion connected Indians drive innovation”, where “access to information knows no barriers”, and where knowledge is the citizens’ power. The government’s plan of incentivising the manufacturing of electronics hardware, including that of mobile phones in the 2015 Union Budget is equally encouraging. Towards this important goal of nation building, the Centre for Internet and Society is researching the patent and copyright implications of Internet-enabled mobile devices that are sold in the Indian market for Rs 6,000 or less.

Bolstered by Make in India, several mobile phone manufacturers have started or ramped up their manufacturing facilities in India. Homegrown brands — such as SpiceMaxx Mobile and Lava — and foreign manufacturers alike are making humongous investments in mobile phone plants. Chip manufacturer Mediatek; one of the newest entrants in the Indian smartphone market, Xiaomi; and telecom company Huawei, all different links in the mobile phone manufacturing chain, are setting up research and development units in India having recognised its potential as a significant market. These developments promise to cut or substitute imports, cater to the domestic market, create millions of jobs, and stem the outflow of money from India.

However, mobile phone manufacturers, big and small, have also been embroiled in litigation in India for the past few years over patents pertaining to crucial technologies. Micromax, one of the several Indian mobile phone manufacturers with original equipment manufacturers in China was ordered by the Delhi High Court late last year to pay a substantial one per cent of the selling price of its devices to Ericsson, which has claimed infringement of eight of its standard essential patents. Intex and Lava, two members of Micromax’s ilk, have been similarly sued and claim to have received the short end of the stick in the form of unreasonable and exorbitant compensations and royalty rates. Chinese budget phone manufacturers operating in India — Xiaomi, OnePlus, and Gionee — also have come under the sledgehammer of sudden suspension of the sale of their devices. The bigger companies such as Asus, Samsung and ZTE have faced the heat of patent litigation as well.

The fear of litigation over patent infringement could thwart local innovation. Additionally, the expenses incurred due to litigation and compensation could lead to the smaller manufacturers shutting shop or passing on their losses to their consumers, and in turn, driving the price points of Internet-enabled mobile devices out of the reach of many. It could also become a stumbling block to the success of ambitious plans of the government, such as the one to provide free WiFi in 2,500 cities and towns across India.

We propose that the Government of India initiate the formation of a patent pool of critical mobile technologies and mandate a five percent compulsory license. Such a pool would possibly avert patent disputes by ensuring that the owners' rights are not infringed on, that budget manufacturers are not put out of business owing to patent feuds, and that consumers continue to get access to inexpensive mobile devices. Several countries including the United States regularly issue compulsory licenses on patents in the pharmaceutical, medical, defence, software, and engineering domains for reasons of public policy, or to thwart or correct anti-competitive practices.[1] [2] Unfortunately, we did not receive a response from the previous government to our suggestion of establishing such a patent pool. We believe that our proposal falls in line with your ambitious programmes designed to work towards your vision of India, and we hope that you would consider it.

Yours truly,
Rohini Lakshané,
Programme Officer,
The Centre for Internet and Society

Copies to:

The world needs a good news source on Internet and telecom policy. I hope to create one. Catch a mistake? Email me please.  Dave Burstein


Professor Noam's "Many Internets" http://bit.ly/ManyNets

Until about 2010, everyone agreed the Net was a "network of networks," not a monolithic entity. There was a central authority, ICANN, keeping track of domain names, but that was a minor administrative function.
Columbia Professor Noam suggests we might be better off accepting that some nations or groups might want to organize their networks differently. It's easy to see demand for an Internet with much more effective filters against material some think harmful to children. (Any 10 year old can easily find porn today. Many do.)
Internet translation is getting better very quickly. You might want an "Internet" that translates everything into your language. Google Chrome translation isn't perfect but I was able to research most of this story on Russian language sites. With a few more years progress, I might welcome an alternate that brings me everything in English, including caching for better performance.
De facto, Internet news is already split, as hundreds of millions only get their news from Facebook. Google AMP pages, including for news, also favor selected parts of the net
Centralizing the DNS doesn't prevent censorship, as the Chinese have demonstrated. There are many Jewish and Muslim fundamentalists who want to block what they consider blasphemy and limit free speech. See http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/21/nyregion/ultra-orthodox-jews-hold-rally-on-internet-at-citi-field.html . More from Noam http://bit.ly/ManyNets

Russia Orders Alternate Root Internet System http://bit.ly/RussiaDNS
It's actually practical and not necessarily a problem.The Security Council of the Russian Federation, headed by Vladimir Putin, has ordered the "government to develop an independent internet infrastructure for BRICS nations, which would continue to work in the event of global internet malfunctions ... This system would be used by countries of the BRICS bloc – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa." RT
Columbia University Professor Eli Noam and then ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé have both said such a system is perfectly practical as long as there is robust interconnection.
Actually, the battle over ICANN and domain names is essentially symbolic. Managing the DNS is a relatively insignificant task, more clerical than governing. ICANN Chair Steve Crocker pointed out they had very little to do with policy.
Some will claim this is about blocking free speech but that's rhetoric. Russia doesn't need to fiddle with the DNS for censorship, as the Chinese have demonstrated. The wonders of the Internet will continue so long as the resulting nets" are robustly connected. The ICANN and U.S. policy goal should be to help create that system for interconnection.
I expect contentions that “The Russians are taking over our Internet” and “They are splitting the Internet.” The Internet is a “Network of Networks.” It is not a monolith so what would “splitting” it mean or do?
After the WCIT, China realized that ICANN and the DNS are side issues not worth bothering about. They have been building alternate institutions including the World Internet Summit in Wuzhan and the BRICs conferences.  The Chinese have put their main work where decisions that matter are made. Wireless standards are set by 3GPP, where nothing can be approved without China's consent.
The American battle at ITU is proving to be a historic mistake.
Why does Russia want an independent Internet?
They fear that Western sanctions on Russia could cripple the Russian Net. Communications minister, Nikolay Nikiforov, worries about, "a scenario where our esteemed partners would suddenly decide to disconnect us from the internet." I think that's highly unlikely but Nikiforov points out, “Recently, Russia is being addressed in a language of unilateral sanctions: first, our credit cards are being cut off; then the European Parliament says that they’ll disconnect us from SWIFT."
It makes sense for the Russians to be prepared for such a contingency as the Cold War has been warming up on both sides. "Britain's top military chief Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach just made headlines warning Russian subs "could CRIPPLE Britain by cutting undefended undersea internet cables." Much more http://bit.ly/RussiaDNS

ICANN Continues Excluding Russia & China From the Board http://bit.ly/CEOPromises
No wonder Russia wants an alternate root. Three years ago, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé promised "a seat at the table" to Chinese Premier Li. ICANN welched and this year added two more Americans.
Almost all the ICANN board is from the U.S. and close allies; only about 4 of the 18 board members are from countries on the other side of the North/South divide in Internet policy.  Claiming ICANN represents the Global Internet is inappropriate. China is 1/3rd of the Internet but has no representation on the board.
I know many of the board members. They are all basically honorable but generally share a strong opinion on North-South issues.
Larry Strickling of the U.S. government knew just what he was doing with the IANA transition. He handed over to a board with similar positions as the U.S. government.
"The system is unsustainable while it excludes half the world," I have been saying since 2012. More, including the transcript of Fadi's statements,http://bit.ly/CEOPromises

Sorry, Ajit Pai: Smaller Telcos Did Not Reduce Investment After NN Ruling http://bit.ly/SorryPai
Pai justifies his NN choice with the claim, "The impact has been particularly serious for smaller Internet service providers." #wrong (Actually, NN has minimal effects on investment, up or down, I’m convinced. Competition, new technology, customer demand and similar are far more important.)
The two largest suppliers to “smaller ISPs” saw sales go up. Adtran's sales the most recent nine months were $540M, up from $473M the year before. 2016 was $636M, 2015 $600M. Calix the last nine months sold $372M, up from $327M. The full year 2016 was $459M, up from $407M in 2015. Clearfield, a supplier of fiber optic gear, was up 8% in sales in the smaller ISPs.
There is nothing in the data from others that suggests an alternate trend. Anyone could have found this data in a few minutes from the company quarterly reports.
The results in larger companies are ambiguous. I can "prove" capex went up or went down by selecting the right data. The four largest companies' capex - two/thirds of the total - went up from $52.7B in 2015 to $55.7B in 2016. The result remains positive after making sensible adjustments for mergers and acquisitions. That's as close to "proving" that NN led to increased spending as the facts chosen to prove the opposite.
Actually, whether capex went up or down in 2016 tells us almost nothing about the choice on neutrality. Everyone knows a single datapoint could be random or due to other causes. Much more, including the source of the errors http://bit.ly/SorryPai

Elders Bearing Witness: Vint, Timbl, & Many More http://bit.ly/VintTim
Vint Cerf, Tim Berners-Lee, Steve Wozniak and more than a dozen true Internet pioneers wrote Congress to protect Neutrality. The best Congress money can buy didn't listen but I wanted to reproduce their letter.
I hope they are wrong believing "is an imminent threat to the Internet we worked so hard to create." My take is the impact will be moderate in the short run.
From the letter:
We are the pioneers and technologists who created and now operate the Internet, and some of the innovators and business people who, like many others, depend on it for our livelihood. ... The FCC’s proposed Order is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology. These flaws and inaccuracies were documented in detail in a 43-page-long joint comment signed by over 200 of the most prominent Internet pioneers and engineers and submitted to the FCC on July 17, 2017.
Despite this comment, the FCC did not correct its misunderstandings, but instead premised the proposed Order on the very technical flaws the comment explained. The technically-incorrect proposed Order ... More, including the full list, http://bit.ly/VintTim