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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Marshall on Ofcom pointlessness and putative Broadband Bill of Rights

By Gary Marshall - excellent! Though note several points relate to the useless Advertising Standards Authority, a self-regulator Ofcom and others hide behind.

"What is the point of Ofcom? Every now and then it carries out a study into something important - 3G network coverage, say, or broadband speeds - and discovers that everybody's getting shafted... Perhaps the answer is for Ofcom to create a Broadband Bill of Rights, a set of rules that ISPs and network operators have to follow - and because we're helpful types, we've written a few of them to get Ofcom started.

1. Eradicate "up to" - "Up to…" doesn't cut it when the average speed of fixed line and mobile broadband isn't even half of the advertised figures. ISPs and network operators should be compelled to print not just the "up to" numbers, but the real figures too...

2. Use words properly - Unlimited means without limits, yet stacks of ISPs and operators are allowed to use the term to describe services with bandwidth caps, fair usage policies and other restrictions. If it's restricted, it isn't unlimited.

3. Tell the truth - ISPs that deliberately throttle traffic - such as peak-time iPlayer nobbling - or block entire protocols should say so up-front.

4. Stop banging on about the BBC - ISPs who moan about high bandwidth services such as iPlayer should be compelled to shut up. If you can't deliver the service at a particular price, put your prices up for heavy users.

5. Offer universal access - Broadband is a utility, and it's becoming increasingly important as government services move online... ISPs shouldn't be able to boot people off the internet for alleged copyright infringement. If people are pirating, that's a job for the courts.

6. Performance-related pay - Of all our proposals, this is the biggie: customers shouldn't be expected to pay for a service they don't get, so if it's £20 for "up to 20MB" then the price you pay should be "up to" £20, too... The same applies to 3G: if someone's paying X per month for a 3G connection but can't get 3G service half the time, why should they pay full whack?"

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