Monday, September 15, 2014

Why Google and the FCC are bringing wireless back into the net neutrality fight

Why Google and the FCC are bringing wireless back into the net neutrality fight — Tech News and Analysis: "When the 2010 debate over network neutrality was raging, less than 30 percent percent of Americans had a smartphone, and they were using them very differently than they are using them now. During 2010, people in the U.S consumed an average of 350 MB/mo of data per month compared to 2013, when shared data plans and more devices helped push data consumption to 1.2GB per month, according to Chetan Sharma, a wireless industry analyst.

 Plus, as Sena Fitzmaurice, a spokeswoman for Comcast, pointed out, if more than 20 percent of visits to the internet are coming from mobile phones, a significant amount of eyeballs access the net via wireless networks, which means that any unfair deals would affect one in five attempts to get online. Comcast says it is in favor of both wireless and wireline network neutrality." 'via Blog this'

Commission priorities: new Digital Single market initiative, investment programme

Letter from Juncker to Oettinger, telling him he should be:
"Preparing, as part of the project team steered and coordinated by the Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, ambitious legislative steps towards a connected Digital Single Market. You should be ready to present these within the first six months, and they should be based on a clear assessment of the main obstacles still to be removed through EU action, either by implementing existing policies or proposing new measures. More ambition should be added to the ongoing reform of our telecoms rules. A harmonised approach to radio spectrum between Member States should be developed. Copyright rules should be modernised, during the first part of this mandate, in the light of the digital revolution, new consumer behaviour and Europe’s cultural diversity.
"Contributing, as part of the project team steered and coordinated by the Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, to the jobs, growth and investment package to be presented within the first three months of our mandate. I would like you to be very hands-on in terms of working with Member States to bring about the conditions necessary for investment decisions and ensure that the EU can be a catalyst for public and private investment. You should focus on supporting the deployment of a high-quality, digital network infrastructure, underpinning all sectors of the economy across borders, progressively on a continental scale."
The rest - freedom of expression, European culture, is a bit blah-blah. There is a final piece discussing the EU "29th state" of the young unemployed but no mention of the fact that this is the digital natives generation....

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ontario Not Alone in Seeking Netflix Regulation: CBC, Quebec Similar Demands

Ontario Not Alone in Seeking Netflix Regulation: CBC, Government of Quebec, and Cultural Groups Making Similar Demands - Michael Geist:

"To put a blunt face on it, you are inviting the CRTC to regulate Google, YouTube and Netflix, aren’t you, and what advice will you be giving your Minister later on today when the potential headline is, “Government of Ontario wants to tax Netflix” or “Government of Ontario wants to regulate the Internet”?

 MR. FINNERTY: Well, in fact what we recommend is that new media broadcasting activities be regulated. We did not recommend that the Internet be regulated, but we are very clear in our submission, both our written submission and in today’s presentation, that we believe that new media broadcasting activity should be regulated to support the principles of the Broadcasting Act and to support Ontario’s very important entertainment and creative cluster." 'via Blog this'

Ansip Signs On as Juncker Reboots European Commission

Ansip Signs On as Juncker Reboots European Commission - Real Time Brussels - WSJ: "That’s interesting, because telecoms operators have said they need to consolidate before they invest, and Mr. Juncker says in his letter to Mr. Ansip, “We will also need to ensure that our competition and taxation rules are conducive to higher levels of public and private investment.”

 J.P. Morgan analyst Hannes Wittig also reckons it’s a win for telecoms companies.

“Mr. Oettinger seems a strong pro-incumbent appointment,” Mr. Wittig said. “The German regulator has in recent years been comparatively constructive towards Deutsche Telekom, often proposing higher regulated wholesale rates than the European telecoms regulator would have found appropriate. The appointment has added spice, given that the German regulator has been openly criticized by the European Commission for recent unbundling and mobile termination rate decisions.”

 What else? Net neutrality will come up, the San Francisco-based Computer & Communications Industry Association hinted, saying the new commissioners “need to ensure Europe’s innovators and citizens get full benefit from the open, global Internet… This means putting in place the right conditions for startup companies and ensuring citizens continue to enjoy the widest access to information, products and services.”" 'via Blog this'

WhatsApp in Brussels: Google and Facebook face competition regulators

WhatsApp in Brussels | EurActiv: "EU merger review of Facebook/WhatsApp presents a rare opportunity to start leveling an unbalanced playing field permitting dominant online players to escape appropriate regulation of their far-flung commercial activities. Facebook should be required to provide equivalent access to its dominant social media platform on the part of mobile messaging apps other than WhatsApp, much as Microsoft was compelled to open Windows to browsers other than MS Internet Explorer.  The separate issue of Facebook’s compliance with applicable Data Protection rules begs an interesting question whether merger clearance should be conditioned on strict compliance going forward, in the interest of ensuring fair competition." 'via Blog this'

Monday, September 08, 2014

When internet access gives net neutrality a beating

When internet access gives net neutrality a beating | Internet Policy Review:

"Jens Best, member of the board of Wikimedia Germany admitted he’s experiencing a dilemma. While he is all for public knowledge and open access, "it's a little bit like there is some guys on the street selling some stuff and the first stuff is for free and then the second stuff costs money". Best also pointed to several problems with the zero-rated offers, for example the issue about links leading out of the zero area. For Wikipedia the links to sources were essential. Abuse of the Wikipages for free chatting also might happen. In sum, Best said, neutrality remains the fundamental principle. While he acknowledged that one had to be open about the many uses of the internet, "entering the web only by using Facebook zero is not entering the internet, it's entering Facebook"." 'via Blog this'

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Ooh-la-la, the French Get (Inter)Net Neutrality Right: It’s All About the Platform Monopolies–Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter etc.

Ooh-la-la, the French Get (Inter)Net Neutrality Right: It’s All About the Platform Monopolies–Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter etc. | Gurstein's Community Informatics: "The report concludes with four general high level recommendations and a number of more specific recommendations nested within these.

1. Bolster the effectiveness of law in relation to digital platforms — in this way challenging law makers to update both their thinking and their legislation in response to these very significant changes in the overall policy landscape. In doing this they make it very clear that they consider these areas subject to national (and regional) policy considerations in direct opposition to the position of those advocating “Internet Freedom” i.e. an Internet which is beyond or outside of the realm of public policy. Within this there is the suggestion of the creation of independent assessment “auditing” agencies whose task it would be to assess neutrality issues and whose operations would build on crowd sourcing information gathering and reputation management methodologies.

2. Ensure data system effectiveness.– Interestingly, where issues of “system effectiveness” within the more traditional context of Internet Governance would be defined from the perspective either of “technical effectiveness” or “corporate functional effectiveness” in this report the meaning is very much end-user focused. How effectively does the system operate so as to maximize individual and particularly collective benefits to end users? Thus the notion of “fairness” (from the end user perspective) is central to this part of the discussion — is the manner and outcome of data use within platform-defined systems providing “fair” use and value to the end user and how can the playing field be leveled (if indeed it can) for individual user (and data provider) in managing and controlling their own data including through “transferability” and “interoperability” in relation to super rich and super powerful platform monopolies.

The report here goes into quite uncharted waters opening up a discussion of the “prescriptive” (normative) role of digital platforms and presenting a series of innovative responses to this set of observations including the need for transparency of algorithms, identification of operational practices and guidelines (they use the term “best practices”) employed within the various platforms, and suggested guidelines to ensure appropriate levels of end user, competitor and collaborator neutrality/fairness of operations.

Going even further the report identifies issues of “power” and “power imbalances” as being at the core of the relationships between the various digital platforms and those within their broader digital eco-system. The report further points out how more traditional understandings (and the associated policy responses) of such power imbalances needs to be updated in the light of the new technology functionalities and business models/strategies in the digital sphere.

3. Invest significantly in skills and knowledge to bolster competitiveness Following on from the earlier assertion of attempting to “bolster” rather than “control” the report outlines a series of research and other measures that should be undertaken to enhance the broad and in particular political understanding of the developments that are taking place in the digital sphere as a background to initiating efforts to respond to these.

4. Set the right conditions to allow alternatives to emerge  Again turning away from the dominant laissez faire Internet development model the report goes on to suggest an economic strategy way forward given that the digital world is currently dominated by a small number of platform-based monopolies based in the US and competing directly (and again based on the analysis) “unfairly” with possible competitors in France and Europe.
France and the EU must develop a strategy that will protect their social and individual values, and that will act as a springboard for the development of digital economic actors. Sovereignty–understood here as the ability to choose a development model with respect to the digital world –means giving oneself the resources to make such a choice.
It is notable that the report identifies “neutral, open platforms” and “open data” as essential for this task."

'via Blog this'

Here’s Why the Comcast–Time Warner Merger Is Bad - Susan Crawford on 1995 @Home comparison

Here’s Why the Comcast–Time Warner Merger Is Bad | MIT Technology Review:

"TCI, Comcast, and Cox locked arms and agreed to jointly own and fund the @Home network—but TCI had the majority stake. And the group agreed to give @Home the exclusive right to market cable-modem Internet access to their subscribers for five years.

This plan was initially successful: by 2000, @Home had four million subscribers, and 13 other cable companies had joined in the exclusive plan.

But Comcast and Cox didn’t trust TCI. Why? Because, as the majority owner of @Home, TCI had the ability to cause @Home to favor TCI-owned or -affiliated content providers over content providers owned by Cox or Comcast.

And so the shareholders in @Home created the “.Com Committee,” designed to ensure equal treatment and equal access to the @Home network for all content.

The three companies also agreed that no video streams of longer than 10 minutes would be allowed over the @Home network, so as to protect their interests in traditional long-form video pay-TV programming." 'via Blog this'

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Why the economics of the Internet look totally different in North America

Why the economics of the Internet look totally different in North America - The Washington Post: "It's worth pointing out that paid transit is different from paid peering. When Netflix complains about paying Comcast, it's talking about the latter. Paid peering is a bit of separate beast.

Cloudflare's data offers more insight on the bigger picture, which is that paid transit is very common. That's a talking point often advanced by people who say Netflix is complaining a lot about nothing, or that efforts to ban "Internet fast lanes" overlook the fact that the Internet is already non-neutral thanks to paid transit. If there's already an existing market where companies pay each other to carry traffic, the argument goes, then what's the big deal about paid peering or, in the last-mile Internet, paid prioritization?" 'via Blog this'

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Comcast tells NY PUC data caps aren’t actually “data caps”

Comcast tells government that its data caps aren’t actually “data caps” | Ars Technica: "The FCC doesn't seem to offer its own definition, but the commission asked its Open Internet Advisory Committee to examine a variety of concerns related to Internet service, resulting in an August 2013 report titled 'Policy Issues in Data Caps and Usage-Based Pricing'. The working group that wrote the report consisted of seven people—including Kevin McElearney, senior VP for network engineering at Comcast. Comcast’s friends at Netflix were represented as well, along with T-Mobile, the Writers Guild of America, the National Urban League, Union Square Ventures, and Northwestern University.

Here’s how Comcast VP McElearney and his colleagues defined data caps in their report (emphasis ours):

"Data caps are often considered to be a form of UBP [usage-based pricing]. The term data cap is characterized by several phenomena. In general, if a user is within a cap, he or she pays a set price. That is, the cap defines a limit on amount of data per month per household expressed in gigabytes). Exceeding the cap could subject a household to alterations to its Internet access, possibly after one or more warnings, such as reduction of access speed,additional charges, suspension of service, or even termination of service.

The termination of service has received particular attention in public discussion, though to date, this appears to be a rare event, as noted below. A cap is rarely, if ever, a hard and fast ceiling on a customer's ability to access the network. A cap is usually better understood as a threshold after which the user is subject to a different set of conditions for access, such as movement to a higher priced tier, different product or different speeds. As discussed below, another way of thinking of this is as the boundary between different ‘tiers' of service."
Fudge - and fudge served up to the NY PUC that is considering its proposed Time Warner merger. Will they eat fudge? 'via Blog this'

Sunday, August 17, 2014

ROAD TRIP! An FCC road trip – Leahy demands net neutrality debate across US

ROAD TRIP! An FCC road trip – Leahy demands net neutrality debate across US • The Register: ""Your announcement last week that the Commission will be holding a series of public roundtables to discuss approaches to protecting an open internet was a welcome and much-needed step," Leahy wrote to the FCC's big cheese.

"While the roundtables the commission is holding in Washington will help to promote further public input, I strongly urge you to expand your listening sessions outside of the Beltway."" 'via Blog this'

FCC To Host Net Neutrality Round Tables

The FCC To Host Net Neutrality Round Tables | TechCrunch: "At the risk of being too pleasant on a Monday morning, the idea isn’t a bad one. Discussing net neutrality issues will allow for more granular arguments and, hopefully, less space for generic statements of broad philosophical bent that do little to advance the conversation.

Here’s the schedule:

 September 16 (morning): Policy Approaches to Ensure an Open Internet

September 16 (afternoon): Mobile Broadband and the Open Internet

September 19 (morning): Effective Enforcement of Open Internet Requirements

September 19 (afternoon):  Technological Aspects of an Open Internet

October 2: Economics of Broadband: Market Successes and Market Failures

October 7: Internet Openness and the Law" 'via Blog this'