Saturday, November 29, 2008

Legislation for net neutrality on both sides of the Atlantic?

California liberal Henry Waxman will be new head of the Commerce Committee, replacing Bellhead John Dingell. That makes both privacy and NN legislation more likely. Frannie Wellings, assistant to Sen. Dorgan, certainly expects that.

Meanwhile in the EU, the mini-super-regulator has been voted down by the Council of Ministers, and we grind on to the 2nd Reading in Parliament...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

FCC changes afoot

Susan Crawford and Kevin Werbach have been featured focussing on their views on wireless and net neutrality - well-known views in the blogosphere. Expect the FCC to turn through at least 90 if not 180 degrees.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

CRTC made simple - Bell discriminated against everyone!

Including themselves - so they were not in breach of competition law - but may have breached net neutrality and customer rights! Hence the July hearing...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

CRTC hearing 6 July

Call for comments: The Commission invites parties to comment on Internet traffic management practices of ISPs, including in particular the issues described below. In their comments, parties should provide full supporting rationale and all evidence on which they rely, and structure their submissions according to the topics and questions identified below.

·         A primary reason given for Internet traffic management practices is the increase in Internet traffic volumes caused by end-users.5 This has been attributed to growth in the use of certain applications, as well as growth in online video consumption, which can lead to network congestion.

a) How has Internet traffic grown in the past three years and what are the predictions for its growth in the future? What has been the impact on Canadian ISP networks?

b) How has average end-user bandwidth consumption changed in the past three years and what are the predictions for future changes in Canada?

c) How should congestion be defined in an ISP's network?         

d) Are there applications or services that are more likely to cause congestion, and if so, what are they?       

e) What are the relative bandwidth requirements for different types of Internet applications?

·         The Commission is seeking information regarding technical and economic solutions that are available now, or likely to be available in the future, for the purpose of Internet traffic management. The Commission would also like to understand the impacts of these solutions.      

a) What technologies could be employed by ISPs (for example, deep packet inspection) to manage Internet traffic?           

b) What developments are under way with respect to traffic protocol (such as modifications to transmission control protocols) and/or application changes (such as changes to P2P file exchange) which could assist in addressing network congestion?     

c) What are the specific capabilities offered by the technical solutions identified in (a) and (b) above? For example, would these technologies allow for throttling of individual users or groups of users; would they allow for the collection of information about persons and to what extent?      

d) With reference to questions (a) to (c) above, how effective would these solutions be in addressing network congestion in the ISP networks?     

e) Also with reference to questions (a) to (c) above, what impact could the implementation of technical solutions have on the Internet Engineering Tark Force standards upon which the operation of the Internet is based? Could these solutions create interoperability challenges for application developers?   

f) Describe the advantages and disadvantages (including end-user impacts) of employing the following practices in order to manage Internet traffic: i. monthly bandwidth limits (bit caps), ii. excess bandwidth usage charges, iii. time of day usage pricing, iv. peak period throttling, v. end-user-based throttling, vi. application-based throttling, vii. content caching, viii. upgrading network capacity, and ix. others not listed above.

·         In Telecom Decision 2008-108, the Commission directed Bell Canada to develop and file with the Commission, proposed notification requirements to address future changes that impact materially on the performance of GAS.

a) Should these requirements be extended to other ISPs providing wholesale Internet services such as the third party Internet access services offered by cable ISPs?

b) Are similar requirements necessary and appropriate in relation to the provision of retail Internet services?

c) If so, what kinds of practices, and/or changes to practices, should trigger these requirements and what information and how much notice should be provided to end-users?

·         Subsection 27(2) of the Act prohibits a Canadian carrier from unjustly discriminating, subjecting any person to an undue or unreasonable disadvantage or giving an undue or unreasonable preference toward any person, including itself, in relation to the provision of a telecommunications service.      

a) What, if any, Internet traffic management practices employed by ISPs would result in unjust discrimination, undue or unreasonable preference or advantage?

·         Section 36 of the Act states that unless the Commission approves otherwise, a Canadian carrier shall not control the content or influence the meaning or purpose of telecommunications carried by it for the public.

a) What, if any, Internet traffic management practices employed by ISPs would result in controlling the content, or influencing the meaning or purpose of telecommunications?

b) For any Internet traffic management practice identified in (a), what criteria should the Commission apply in determining whether to authorize such practice?

·         Section 47 of the Act states that the Commission shall exercise its powers and perform its duties under the Act with a view to implementing the Canadian telecommunications policy objectives set out in section 7 of the Act8 (the policy objectives) and ensuring that Canadian carriers provide telecommunications services and charge rates in accordance with section 27.

a) What issues do Internet traffic management practices raise concerning the policy objectives of the Act?

·         Section 47 of the Act also states that the Commission shall exercise its powers and perform its duties under the Act in accordance with any orders made by the Governor in Council under section 8. The Governor in Council has issued an Order Issuing a Direction to the CRTC on Implementing the Canadian Telecommunications Policy Objectives, P.C. 2006-1534, 14 December 2006 (the Policy Direction), which requires the Commission to, among other things, rely on market forces to the maximum extent feasible and when relying on regulation, use measures in a manner that interferes with market forces to the minimum extent necessary to meet the policy objectives. The Policy Direction also requires the Commission to ensure that non-economic measures are implemented, to the greatest extent possible, in a symmetrical and competitively neutral manner.

a) In light of the Policy Direction, address the requirement for, and the appropriateness of, implementing any regulatory measures in relation to Internet traffic management by ISPs.         

b) For each proposed regulatory measure, comment on how such measure would be consistent with the Policy Direction as well as how these measures could be implemented in the least intrusive manner.

·         The issue of Internet traffic management practices is increasingly a global issue that is being raised in other jurisdictions.   

a) Discuss any initiatives being examined or undertaken in other jurisdictions in relation to the issues raised in this proceeding concerning the Internet traffic management practices of ISPs.       

b) With respect to any initiatives described in part (a) of this question, discuss their possible applicability in Canada.

I like the last bit!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Incumbents demand regulation: Reding Venice speech

The Commissioner indulged in some straight talking about government-owned (fully or partially) incumbents in Europe, last week. 
"I call on you, incumbents, and your association ETNO, to re-think your policy recommendations to national ministers. You have to take a decision: Do you want to be friends or foes of a single telecoms market in Europe? Do you really want to let, for short-term reasons, the single market slip away to your US competitors?"

Spirited final session at ETNO

Everyone wanted to attack a strawman of extreme net neutrality - but it seems they all agreed on 'net neutrality lite' - or at least that a basic level of QoS that could not be degraded was not unreasonable.

Podcast Transcript for that MP3

"Hello, this is Senator Barack Obama and today is Thursday, June 8th, 2006.

"The topic today is net neutrality. The internet today is an open platform where the demand for websites and services dictates success. You've got barriers to entry that are low and equal for all comers. And it's because the internet is a neutral platform that I can put on this podcast and transmit it over the internet without having to go through some corporate media middleman. I can say what I want without censorship. I don't have to pay a special charge. But the big telephone and cable companies want to change the internet as we know it. They say they want to create high-speed lanes on the internet and strike exclusive contractual arrangements with internet content-providers for access to those high-speed lanes. Those of us who can't pony up the cash for these high-speed connections will be relegated to the slow lanes.

"Allowing the Bells and cable companies to act as gatekeepers with control over internet access would make the internet like cable. A producer-driven market with barriers to entry for website creators and preferential treatment for specific sites based not on merit, the number of hits, but on relationships with the corporate gatekeeper. If there were four or more competitive providers of broadband service to every home, then cable and telephone companies would not be able to create a bidding war for access to the high-speed lanes. But here's the problem. More than 99 percent of households get their broadband services from either cable or a telephone company.

"So here's my view. We can't have a situation in which the corporate duopoly dictates the future of the internet and that's why I'm supporting what is called net neutrality. In the House, the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Judiciary Committee reached different conclusions on network neutrality. Judiciary Committee members voted to protect net neutrality and commerce voted with the Bells and cable. That debate is going to hit the House floor this Friday. In the Senate, Senators Snowe and Dorgan are leading the fight for net neutrality and I've joined in that effort. Senator Inouye, the ranking Democrat of the Commerce Committee, has joined us in this effort as well and he's working with Senator Stevens to put strong network neutrality into any Senate bill that comes before us. There is widespread support among consumer groups, leading academics and the most innovative internet companies, including Google and Yahoo, in favor of net neutrality. And part of the reason for that is companies like Google and Yahoo might never have gotten started had they not been in a position to easily access the internet and do so on the same terms as the big corporate companies that were interested in making money on the internet.

"I know if you are listening to this podcast that you are going to take an intense interest in this issue as well. Congress is going to need to hear your voice because the Bell and cable companies are going to be dedicating millions of dollars to defeating network neutrality. So I'll keep you updated on this important issue and I look forward to talking to you guys again next week. Bye-bye."

Obama on net neutrality

Horse's mouth on his policy - its an MP3 from 8 June 2006. Note he's not opposed to QoS, just to differential contracts for that QoS - call it a Most Favoured Nation (MFN) clause for the Internet. More as his policy in office emerges.

More from ETNO

No-one has mentioned net neutrality yet - which doesn't surprise me and I'm not going to be the first person to fart in church. The high-level regulators' panel was amazing - Colasanti would not discuss the package in his opening remarks, Matthias Kurth will chair ERG next year even though no-one else in the ERG agrees with his 'American' (i.e. monopoly) approach to telecoms, which flies in the face of the Commission. It was a perfect example of people talking past each other, showing that next year will be a desperate one for European policy - especially as the Commission and DGs will be rudderless in part as a new Commission is nominated.

This however is an opportunity - if only through crisis. The regulators are going to favour - or at least turn a blind eye to - incumbents in the NGA settlement, as frankly they're the only game in town willing to invest in fibre in the short term. As a result, we're going to be in the US in competitive terms, a duopoly, except worse. Worse for two reasons. 1. We have very little cable in most places. 2. The LLU competition in telecoms which disguised the lack of alternative infrastructure, will be much more limited in NGAs. The emperor's nudity will be exposed.

UPDATE: 4.46pm and final panel chair Phillipe de Fraigne mentioned "net neutrality". Only on a list of issues with no explanation. Back to sleep...

Google speak no evil in Brussels

Simon Hampton, for many years AOL's man in Brussels, now speaks for Google and does not speak net neutrality or open airwaves a la Washington. Nothing else to report from ETNO's annual conference yet. Well, they'd all prefer US federal non-regulation on fixed lines, naturally.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Wireless net neutrality?

CNET reports on the potential for Tim Wu's idea to be enforced under an Obama FCC..

Most Euro telco regulators under the thumb

We forget in the northern fringe (UK, Scandies, Netherlands) just how under the thumb regulators are elsewhere - 18 out of 27 have their independence compromised by majority or minority government stakes in incumbents.

Job advert for superwoman

Lecturer in European Union Commercial Law (University of Essex)

The School of Law wishes to appoint a Lecturer in European Union Law with a firm commitment to teaching at LLB and LLM level. The areas of greatest interest include Internal Market law, EU Company law as well as electronic communications/Internet law. We would welcome applications from candidates with the ability to teach some element of French Law.

Candidates should be able to demonstrate an excellent research profile or (in the case of applicants for whom this is a first academic appointment) strong demonstrable research potential.

The School was rated “5” in both the 1996 and 2001 Research Assessment Exercises, and its teaching has been assessed as “Excellent” by HEFCE. The School has a policy that all academics contribute in an equitable manner to its administrative load.

Salary: £36,532-£43,622 per annum; Closing date: 16 November 2008; Apply online (Ref. AC705)

Friday, November 07, 2008

Ofcom pokes oar in on broadband rollout

It seems that Ofcom thinks the recession makes public intervention logic less likely rather than more - whatever happened to Alaistair Darling's Keynesianism?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Three strikes Hadopi Law gets closer

From EDRi-gram:
1. One more step for France in adopting the graduated response ============================================================
Despite all opposition and debates, on 30 October 2008, a crushing majority of the French Senate voted in favour of the anti-piracy law, the so called Hadopi law, introducing the graduate response against illegal content downloading.
The law enabling the introduction of three-strikes measure against file-sharers and Internet users comes now in contradiction with the European Parliament's opinion which called on the European Commission and all member states to "avoid adopting measures conflicting with civil liberties and human rights and with the principles of proportionality, effectiveness, and dissuasiveness, such as the interruption of Internet access."
Regarding the French Senate's vote, Jeremie Zimmermann, co-founder of La Quadrature du Net said: "Inconsistencies, lies, confusion and insults which the creative industries habitually use to blame their clients served as justification for a hurried vote, which ignored the wider public debate which is taking place in France and in Europe."
According to the modified law voted by the Senate, if an illegal downloading case is reported by an authorised body (industry associations, CNC, professional bodies), Hadopi, the body created especially for this purpose, will send the infringer a warning e-mail. If the infringement is repeated in 6-month time, a new e-mail is sent together with a warning by registered letter. In case in the next year the infringement is repeated, the Internet user in cause is penalised according to the gravity of the act. The sanction can be the denial of Internet access ranging from one month (duration decreased by the senators from 3 months as initially in the draft law) to a year during which time the Internet user continues to pay the access subscription and is included on a black list that forbids him
(her) to subscribe to any other operator.
Bruno Retailleau, a Senate member who voted against the legislation, argued that a full cut off of the Internet access is too severe a punishment as Internet access is essential to modern homes. In his opinion, cutting off households might even be considered discriminatory, as Internet access is usually tied to a cable line or phone service.
In case the French National Assembly (the second chamber of the Parliament) also votes in favour of the Hadopi law and the law becomes effective next year, the French government will be at odds with the European Parliament being in direct contradiction with Amendment 138 to the Telecoms Package, voted on 24 September which explicitly states that only the judicial authority can impose restrictions on citizens' fundamental rights and freedoms.
The European Parliament clearly expressed the opposition against the cutting off of Internet users' access, wishing "a balance between the interests of rights holders and those of consumers", and considering that "that big measures like cutting off Internet access shouldn't be used."
On the other hand, minister Albanel seems confident in the removal of Amendment 138 of the Telecom Package by the European Council having in view the pressure France is putting on the Commission and the Council.
Illegal downloading: the graduate response reviewed and corrected by the Senate (only in French, 1.11.2008) http://www.01net.com/editorial/394828/telechargement-illegal-la-riposte-graduee-revue-et-corrigee-par-le-senat/?rss
"Three strikes" P2P rule inches closer to law in France (2.11.2008) http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20081102-three-strikes-p2p-rule-inches-closer-to-law-in-france.html
"Graduated response" - Will France disconnect Europe? (1.11.2008) http://www.laquadrature.net/en/graduated-response-will-france-disconnect-europe
EDRi-gram: French law on 'graduate response' opposed by ISOC Europe
(10.09.2008) http://www.edri.org/edrigram/number6.17/3strikes-opposed-isoc-europe

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

DSL to be stretched by DSM - noise reduction on lines

Years ago, I attended the superb Marconi Awards, as guest of Prof. Eli Noam - whose 25th anniversary party for his CITI centre at Columbia was last weekend - lets have 25 more!!!

The discussion was a little too technical for this lawyer, but the Lifetime Award went to Gordon Moore - Moore's Law predictor and all-round "mensch".

The annual award went to the French mathematician inventors of Turbo Codes - which enable 3G data over wireless. There was much discussion of Shanon's Law too.

Shannon's Law lurked in the back of my brain for 3 years - and now back in the front as a Stanford prof has shown how to DOUBLE DSL throughput per line on a shared exchange. He has 14million lines installed, with Sky in the UK going public about it (thanks to Dave Burstein for this).

So rejoice in the midst of recession - we can squeeze a hell of a lot more out of DSL before we have to invest in fibre in, oh, about 2025...and BT says peered backhaul is cheap as chips so we can watch iPlayer to our hearts' content.

Yes we can...

Obama election analysis

In addition to the question of the mysterious disappearing "record turnout", The Onion has the sharpest coverage!

Obama on net neutrality and IT for health

Interesting CNET piece on Presidential IT policies. I suspect net neutrality will become as high a priority in the US as the EC.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Time Warner Cable early leader in capping customers

Whoops, missed this! - first reported on DSL Reports, in January '08 and confirmed in June, 5-40GB caps by Time Warner in its Beaumont Texas trial with $1 per GB excess fee:

Pricing plans will range from $29.95 a month for a 5GB cap [ed: on a FIXED line!!!] and 768kbps download speeds to $54.90 for a 40GB cap at 15mbps. There's also a 10GB cap option, but that's only available alongside phone and TV service.

If customers exceed their bandwidth cap - which covers uploads as well as downloads - they'll be charged an extra $1 per extra gigabyte. "It's just a like a cell phone plan," Dudley says. And they can track their usage via a "gas gauge" on the company's web site.

AT&T set to impose severe bandwidth caps in Reno

El Reg reports on caps between 20GB and 150GB for new customers, extending to existing customers next year - on a 750kb/s link, 20GB is not going to last long at full speed. But at least it is now relatively transparent and results from discussions with soon-to-be-former FCC Chair Kevin Martin.