Thursday, December 11, 2014

Genuinely interesting Ofcom idea: extend universal service, 2Mbps inadequate for video calling

"3.15 It may be time to review public policy around universal service (3.65 to 3.66). The current universal service commitment, set by the Government in 2009, specified that every household should have broadband access of at least 2Mbit/s.16 It may now be time to review that policy, as consumer expectations of broadband rise along with the availability and take-up of faster broadband. There is evidence that broadband of at least 10Mbit/s is required to support typical consumers’ use. Below that speed, overall broadband performance is generally impaired. Indeed, use may be constrained for broadband below this threshold, because some applications will not work properly, if at all.
"Upload speeds are also an important consideration (3.85 to 3.86). This is especially the case for services such as high quality video calling. The average upload speed in the UK is currently 3Mbit/s.

"3.86 Figure 25 below shows that the distribution of upload speeds is skewed towards the lower end, with 80% of connections having an upload speed of less than 2Mbit/s."

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Ofcom Infrastructure Report: UK mobiles playing self-regulatory game

Ofcom is not measuring the actual level of throttling, zero-rating and fast lanes, but it is measuring self-regulatory commitments as per its strategy since 2006. "The most significant development is that all UK mobile operators have now discontinued packages which block access to VoIP services. On top of this, EE, Vodafone and Virgin Media have signed up to the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) Open Internet Code of Practice. This means that all major consumer internet providers are committed to the self-regulatory approach, a key part of the Government’s policy on Net Neutrality." So no change there....

Zero-Rating Violates Slovenian Net Neutrality Law

Competitive Analysis & Foresight: Zero-Rating Violates Slovenian Net Neutrality Law: "The electronic communications industry fiercely opposed the adoption of net neutrality rules. Its efforts were partially successful and resulted in watering down of provisions related to content, service or application discrimination. In response to lobbying by the industry, the National Assembly in the second reading removed an explicit prohibition of price discrimination from Article 203, paragraph 5. 

 A regulator, the Agency for Communications Networks and Services (AKOS), led by a former industry executive, has not been an advocate of net neutrality. Instead, it has taken a pro-industry stance on net neutrality and has not opposed attempts to weaken or even remove net neutrality provisions from the law. It is not surprising that it has not paid much attention to its imposition. Therefore, despite solid net neutrality legal protection, in practical terms this has not led to much of a difference." 'via Blog this'

Friday, December 05, 2014

Germany: privatisation of 32% stake in DTelekom - see why they will veto net neutrality?

Germany quietly shelves idea of Deutsche Bahn privatisation | Reuters: "In its report on state assets, the government is laying out plans for the possible privatisation of stakes in firms such as Deutsche Telekom and Deutsche Post.

Merkel's "grand coalition" promises to balance the federal budget next year for the first time since 1969. Selling such stakes could help it do that at a time of slowing growth. It could also free up cash for public investments when Merkel is under pressure to spend more to stimulate the economy.

The government holds a 31.7 percent stake in Deutsche Telekom and a 21 percent stake in Deutsche Post. Together, the stakes could fetch about 24 billion euros, though the government could choose to sell a portion rather than all of its shares."

Turkeys don't vote for Christmas, the government is entirely conflicted in regulating Telekom. That's why it has been advised to sell....

Also note that Telekom is trying to offload both its US and UK mobile arms - and net neutrality would negatively affect both sales to some extent. It's worth billions...'via Blog this'

Merkel speaks out against net neutrality

Merkel speaks out against net neutrality - The Local: "At the Vodafone-hosted Digitising Europe conference in Berlin, she called for a splitting of services, "one for free internet, and the other for special services", adding that it was up to Brussels to negotiate how it would work.

"An innovation-friendly internet means that there is a guaranteed reliability for special services," she said. "These can only develop when predictable quality standards are available".

Merkel added that these special services would run over existing internet infrastructure.

 Social Democratic Party (SPD) MEP Petra Kammerevert told The Local that this would make it more difficult to find a common European position on net neutrality.

"If Merkel goes into negotiations with the position she's outlined today, it will be very difficult for the European Council to find a common position," she said." 'via Blog this'

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Cisco's CEO Blames Net Neutrality for US Orders Slowdown

Cisco On Net Neutrality Isn't What It Seems: "what you’re seeing in terms of net neutrality, Titled II discussions going on, where in my opinion it would be a very disappointing in result if we moved back to regulation, the Internet like we did voice many decades ago. It would dramatically slow the ability of service providers to be on our broadband" 'via Blog this'

British Telecom Calls on FCC to Regulate Broadband 'Special Access'

British Telecom Calls on FCC to Regulate Broadband 'Special Access': "Bas Burger, the president of British Telecom in the Americas, wants to see the special access market regulated as a way to end the negative effects of the effective monopoly held by AT&T and Verizon in the U.S.
Special access is communication that includes data and voice used by enterprises, carriers and others to connect one point to another. For example, a cell carrier would use special access to connect a cell tower with the central office where calls are routed." 'via Blog this'

FRAND and net neutrality - is the Commission starting to understand?

One of the key questions in the net neutrality debate is whether ISPs can discriminate in pricing of both Internet access and specialized services - either surcharging or insisting on paid peering (as with e.g. NetFlix) or zero-rating/uncharging their affiliates (e.g. IPTV, Facebook or even Wikipedia).
This is at the heart of the matter as I have argued for at least 7 years (yes, getting old...). Not neutral, is it!?

Monday, December 01, 2014

EU Telecoms Council conclusions: nothing to see here....

"The presidency concluded that more technical work was needed with a view to defining a Council
position on roaming and net neutrality - issues in which the citizen has a central position. The
presidency will continue to work on the proposal until the end of the year, based on the guidance
given by ministers. Talks with the European Parliament would only start when the time is ripe." Ripe?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

We need to be pragmatic about the principle of net neutrality

We need to be pragmatic about the principle of net neutrality | Technology | The Guardian: "If the FCC is looking for a principle, it is that technological changes should be made for engineering, not commercial, reasons. Will the agency’s chairman, who used to be a telecoms lobbyist, see it that way? Is the Pope a Protestant?" 'via Blog this'

Friday, November 28, 2014

Reminder: UK isolated in EU Council - may lead to 2015 compromise

Telecom Italia, guardians of ugly monopolists ETNO, was always going to spike the Italian Presidency's guns, so this will probably roll on to the next Telecoms Council chaired by Latvia in early 2015 - though not presumably as late as the 9 June formal Telecoms Council - handily on the Google Calendar for the Latvian Presidency.
There will be a UK General Election before that date but as all major UK parties are neoliberals (except in this area possibly the LibDems) don't expect much change. Note the Latvians have a lot of fibre connections and a 51% government-owned incumbent.
Ed Vaizey in any case set out the UK position very clearly in a 'Dear Bill' letter to the European Scrutiny Committee in May of this year:
I begin with noting that the outcome of the EP First Reading deal was not as expected i.e. in line with the recommendations put forward by the ITRE Report. This was, in the main, due to the ALDE (liberal) Group within the EP withdrawing its support for the content of the ITRE Report covering this issue after voting for its adoption, and then aligning itself with the positions previously adopted by the Socialists & Democrats and Green Groups by jointly putting forward a series of amendments. It was these amendments that were voted passed during the Plenary vote rather than those in the ITRE Report.
"As noted above, the result is that the EP First Reading now contains a specific definition of “net neutrality”, as well as a more restrictive approach to “specialised services” and “traffic management”. This is in direct opposition to HMG’s current negotiating stance and underlines the contentious nature of this issue as previously noted in the most recent Commons Committee Report.
I can confirm that I remain convinced that self-regulation and transparency of traffic management measures will be more effective in delivering an open internet than regulation and that any Regulation risks being too prescriptive, inflexible and may have unintended consequences, including higher consumer bills. Further, First Reading text includes amendments that may have implications for our work on child internet safety. I also remain of the view that it is difficult to accurately define many of the more technical terms used in this area.
"Thus, whilst I do not believe regulation to be the answer, we are committed to working with the Commission and other Member States to ensure that the text produced in Council addresses as many of these issues as possible in order to manage the risks I identify above and taking into account that the introduction of regulation in this area enjoys broad support from the EP and Council. That said, the issue has yet to be fully discussed at Working Group level and so the situation may change but taking into account early indications of Member States’ views in this area, we cannot rely on a change on the position from one where UK’s remains relatively isolated in its opposition. It is worth noting that the issue of net neutrality is one that is covered by the UK and German initiative.
"Further, HMG has also engaged with industry, through the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG), to accurately understand the impact of regulation in this area, for both content producers and communications providers alike. We will continue to work closely with industry and Ofcom to ensure that our input into negotiations is as influential as possible. Should the European institutions decide that Regulation is the only way forward and UK is unable to gain wider support for its self-regulatory stance, we should prepare to ensure that any adopted text is as workable as possible given the current state of the UK market and the existing self-regulatory approach."
Hence the isolation - but for Germany, Spain and Italy with their giant state-owned telecoms former monopolies - was expected....