Aug 25th 2022

The Great Telco Debate: Babel Style

Babel PR Great Telco Debate

We love a ‘lunch and learn’ here at Babel. Whether it’s internal training, external training, brainstorming or workshops – it’s always a great way to learn new things and upskill the team. Last week saw the trial of a brand new ‘lunch and learn’ format at Babel, as the team took part in its very own ‘Great Telco Debate’. The event saw teams debating a topic of contention across the digital space – net neutrality.

Net neutrality is the concept that all traffic on the internet must be treated equally. It is widely debated around the world, with countries taking differing stands on the matter. The UK has net neutrality laws in place from its time in the European Union, but following Brexit, the matter has returned to the spotlight.

Selected by Babel senior campaign director, Declan Bradshaw, the central question of the debate was:

 

‘Should the UK keep its net neutrality rules in place or not?’

With the two sides drawn up, one team was challenged with arguing in favour and the other against. The teams were judged on the quality of their arguments, presentation and delivery, with the panel comprising members of the team not taking part in the debate.

Since we are a PR agency focused on the technology and telecoms sector, Babel staff are well-versed in various aspects of the tech sector, but understandably not everyone is fully immersed in the telco world and some are newer to the industry.  Because of this, the task was valuable on two levels; firstly, it required teams to learn about and understand the contentious nature of net neutrality, and in doing it also developed core transferable skills including leadership, public speaking and teamwork.

Each team made three core arguments, with their opponents having the opportunity to rebut as well as propose counter-arguments.

Upon winning the coin toss, the team arguing that the UK should keep net neutrality spoke first. Here is a summary of their arguments:

“Antitrust – with net neutrality there is an even playing field; big companies can’t buy their way to market domination.”

“If net neutrality was repealed, companies could charge consumers more to use their services, which is damaging to the public, particularly with society embroiled in a cost-of-living crisis. The last thing the public wants at the moment is an increase in their Netflix subscription.”

“Net neutrality protects the concept of freedom of speech through the internet. ISPs can’t dictate what content their users are able to see. It would be unjust to have your access to information dictated by your ability to pay for it.”

Babel PR Debate

 

Their opponents, arguing against the retention of net neutrality, also fought on three fronts. Here is a summary of their side of the debate:

“Repealing the legislation gives service providers the chance to innovate, charge companies more where appropriate and use profits to deliver higher quality services and drive competition in the sector.”

“If internet service vendors are paid more by huge tech companies like Netflix, for example, they can channel these profits to lower prices for the end user, which the public will appreciate.”

“As it stands, even with net neutrality we don’t have a wholly open internet. At least with the current regulations, dangerous online content can be stopped in its tracks. This can help prevent the spread of dangerous online radicalisation, while simultaneously the internet can ensure vital information in the wake of emergencies is readily accessible.”

After 25 minutes of structured back-and-forth, the judges were left with scores to award and decisions to make. Teams were scored out of 300.

 

The verdict

The team arguing against the retention of net neutrality were narrow victors, winning 233 – 228.

The closeness of the result was a testament to the two teams’ strong debating skills and the speed at which they picked up the nuances of the topic. The five-point difference was, perhaps unsurprisingly, also reflective of the relatively even debate surrounding net neutrality that exists in the public domain.

Following the success of this session, Babel’s weekly lunch-and-learn events are set to feature more debates in the near future.


Babel PR