Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
As a result of the pathetic non-implementation of the 'self-regulatory' code by the majority, Ofcom is threatening co-regulation at the very least (which begs the question of how they could trust ISPs on net neutrality?)
'To address the shortfalls in compliance with the Code, Ofcom is going to:
work with ISPs to agree a consistent and accurate way of calculating and presenting access line speed information and amend the Code accordingly;
amend the Code to require ISPs to commit to giving the access line speed estimate early in the sales process, i.e. before asking the customer for bank details or a MAC. Currently the Code only requires ISPs to give this information before completion of the sales process.
find ways of ensuring that ISPs give consumers better information on why and how actual broadband speeds may be lower than headline speeds.
explore with ISPs whether it would be appropriate to add a new provision in Code which allows customers to leave their contract period without penalty if the access line speed received in practice is significantly below the estimate given at the time of signing up.'
'almost half (42 per cent) of these shoppers had to prompt providers for their speed late in the sales process. In addition, three quarters (74 per cent) of mystery shoppers were not informed that their actual speed was likely to be below their maximum line speed. The research also showed that shoppers often received a wide variety of different estimates of the maximum line speed from different ISPs for the same line.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Mobile and wireless data would be a great idea? On to Vienna!
Saturday, March 27, 2010
I realized ploughing through the references this morning, that the book misses a reference, so here it is:
Hallberg, Erik (2008) TeliaSonera - a European perspective on open mobile, Open Mobile Summit, at http://www.openmobilesummit.com/pastevent/OM-d11430-ErikHallberg.pdf
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Telefonica and D-Telekom aggressively target Google in public: "We cannot offer everything for nothing"
Alierta is reported as stating: " Si Google y los demás buscadores quieren hacer negocio en Internet tendrán que cederle una parte a los operadores que ponen a su disposición sus redes y sus millones de clientes ." He goes on "What is clear is that Internet search engines use our network without paying anything, which is lucky for them and a curse for us. It is also clear that this can not continue. The networks put them on the systems, we do the after sales service, we do everything. This will change, I am convinced."
Hmmm, lets see what the regulators do about that?
Pass along to Ottawa or Brussels or Tokyo, nothing to see here...
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
"The delusions that led to the financial disaster of the Railway Mania arose from experience with the railway mania of the mid-1830s. Seldom even mentioned in the literature, it was about half the size of the big Railway Mania of the 1840s (and thus still far larger than the Internet bubble). The initial financially exuberant phase of it did collapse. But it appears to have been unique among large manias in that a few years later it was seen as having collapsed prematurely, as projects started during its exuberant phase became successful. That mania demonstrates the difficulty in identifying bubbles that are truly irrational. Both railway manias provide a variety of other lessons about the interaction of technology and financial markets."
Did we not have an early 1990s telecom-ICT bubble leading to the 1996 Telecoms Act and 1998 European framework, a dot-com bubble at the turn of the century - and now...soon...eventually....? But that is another history yet to be written.
"In order to foster investment in Next Generation Access Networks (NGA) and the appearance of new operators in the market, RRT proposes to exempt FTTH lines from regulation and to impose only those obligations which will, according to RRT, create favourable conditions for the development of NGA. RRT therefore proposes to impose the following remedies related to access to passive infrastructure, i.e. access to ducts and dark fibre (backhaul fibre)".
But the EC won't let them get away with either - one of the major problems of one-size-fits-all telecoms policy. Its inevitable but unfortunate. Otherwise, France Telecom would argue the same against ARCEP, in a market with 400,000 high-speed subscribers mixed between cable and fibre.
If I was advising the Liths, I'd tell them to let it go all the way to the ECJ to buy some time for their artful compromise, then subside gently. Oh, and enjoy the Internet Governance Forum in September (sorry about the British stag parties, boys will be boys...)
P.S. The UK regulator has decided above 24Mbps is 'super-fast' as that means HFC or VDSL - and proposes to allow duct access for third parties. See ARCEP above for how its done...
UPDATE: The Lithuanians realized they were onto a hiding and withdrew their definitions.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
So they've gone for the Information Society in a big way to gallop away from rotting Soviet-era industrial infrastructure. Alarmingly for Western pathfinders, its Lithuania that leads in fibre - 18% of households as opposed to 0.00015 (ish) in the UK, which laughably claims VDSL is "super-fast broadband". NO IT ISN'T.
Anyhoo, the Liths have run into trouble with the EC for their new market definitions for unbundling - they want to use LLU for copper, no LLU for FTTH, and nothing at all for fibre to the building.
They now have 2 months to respond with to the EC's view.
My forerunner to 'Net neutrality', written in January 2006 (note 2005 in Europe featured not a lot on net neutrality but masses on video Internet regulation) http://bit.ly/bANH3z
Talk given in course of panel at OII 17 March 2010. http://bit.ly/cLlnMu
Meanwhile, in crazy pre-Election UK, Gordon Broon has been making promises that he cannot keep on next-gen access. Its like electricity, he says. Does that mean we'll get different sockets to the rest of the world...? Slightly better news is that there may be a little compromise on 3 Strikes in the Anti-Digital Economy Bill, if Stephen Timms is more honorable than his Prime Minister...
Friday, March 19, 2010
It's a pretty elaborate (and technical!) article, and certainly stimulating for other municipalities with fiber aspirations. Also note that Citynet offers a blueprint to encourage fiber deployment in Europe, while avoiding State Aid concerns under European Law.
The key to success is an extensive preparation, a detailed design, good organization, and social engineering when dealing with people who live in the MDUs; in fact, this is much more important than trenching and putting in fiber. Only 120,000 meters of trenching was needed for the first 40,000 connections, an average of three meters per connection. Roughly 80 percent of the costs were labor costs, while 10 percent were fiber.
The payoff for the effort is that fiber, once deployed, has proven to be very reliable. So it makes sense not to cut corners and deploy a network that can be used for as many decades as possible.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Saturday, March 13, 2010
"We need that national action; but we need European coordination alongside it. That is how we will maximise benefits from the EU Single Market, and make investments more attractive to private investors. So the European Council's call for a unifying broadband strategy represents an important opportunity. Building on that, the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth makes clear that not only should there be "broadband for all" by 2013 - by 2020 all Europeans should have access to much higher internet speeds (30Mbps or more) and fifty percent or more of European households should have access above 100Mbps. There are many horizontal challenges for promoting high-speed broadband throughout Europe:
- High-quality in addition to high-speed
- Consumers should also know real speeds, not theoretical speeds. They feel ripped-off when they get broadband at half, or less, than the advertised speed
- A regulatory framework that promotes private investment in next generation networks
- Maintaining close links to regional and local authorities and prudent use of EU budgets, which is crucial to including rural areas
- Seamless convergence between fixed and wireless is also needed in order to deliver greater productivity. First-class wireless broadband is vital for rural areas
- And finally – we will not forget that the internet is most useful when it is open, so that innovation and interoperability flourish."
Its all down to bandwidth and IPR of course - as Joost found out and as Time Warner did in their video P2P delivery system. I will post more on this after looking at Essex's astonishingly groovy 'Beyond High Definition' Media Lab next week.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Chief Executive, Orange
Director of Policy EU, Facebook
Chief Executive, Virgin Media
Managing Director, Google UK and Ireland
Chairman, Talk Talk Group
Chair, Internet Services Providers Association
International Director, Consumer Focus
Executive Director, Open Rights Group
Managing Director, eBay UK
Chief Executive, BT Group
University of Glasgow
University of Leicester
Managing Director, Yahoo! UK and Ireland
University of Leicester
Founder, Shooting People independent film makers
Queen Mary, University of London
Monday, March 08, 2010
(50) As far as downgrading is concerned, the parties exchanging IP traffic are interested in both the reception and provision of high-quality data conveyance services. Hence, the incentive of any operator to discriminate against IP traffic exchange partners in terms of quality is limited. Such a practice would result in retaliatory action or cancellation of direct contractual relationships.
(52) With regard to the lack of a peering policy, which, in UKE’s view, should list clear conditions under which operators in Poland could exchange traffic with TP, the Commission takes the view that this in itself does not point to the existence of SMP. More generally, with the growth of the internet, the diversity of AS has increased. Content-heavy ISPs and large content providers are interacting with ISPs providing mainly broadband access service to end-users, which tend to download rather than upload large volumes of traffic. These changes lead to traffic patterns that are highly asymmetric and impact on how IP traffic exchange agreements are negotiated, i.e. whether a price is charged for the exchange of traffic or whether a (free) peering solution is acceptable to both parties. Peering policies range from open to very restrictive, and would, in any case, permit the negotiation of terms and conditions of IP traffic exchange which are specific to the exchange partners. The Commission finds that UKE does not sufficiently explore the relationships between the relevant actors in Poland, especially when it comes to assessing the outcome of negotiations between content-heavy ISPs and large content providers vis-à-vis TP. Without prejudging the outcome of a future analysis of contractual relationships in the Polish market, it is in principle not unusual that smaller networks or content-heavy networks conclude transit (rather than peering) agreements with larger networks and agree to pay the larger providers to deliver their traffic."
Nick Economides or Emanuele Giovanetti or Bill Lehr might be able to help me out here?
Sunday, March 07, 2010
The FCC Inquiry into Broadband Industry Practices - i.e. the net neutrality consultation - has had almost 30,000 filings. That will cause a few delays and headaches in analyzing. Regulatory death by democracy?
Meantime, here's Prof. Glen Robinson's fascinating retrospective on a hundred years of US communications regulation.
Friday, March 05, 2010
Feel free to download the article here, abstract is below. If you have any thoughts, drop a line—and please, spread the word!
Network Neutrality Between False Positives and False Negatives: Introducting a European Approach to American Broadband Markets
By Jasper P. Sluijs
Network neutrality has become a contentious issue both in Europe and the United States. Regulators on both sides of the Atlantic face digital divides in their society, and are confronted with potentially conflicting policy goals-to incentivize private investment in next-generation broadband while maintaining ÒneutralÓ and competitive broadband networks.
This Article compares nascent American and European network neutrality policy in terms of regulatory error costs. Emerging markets, such as broadband, are more likely to be affected by regulatory errors, and these errors have graver consequences in emerging markets than in regular markets. U.S. telecommunications policy traditionally has advanced a trial-and-error approach of categorical intervention against specific regulatory errors. However, analysis shows that categorical regulation misrepresents the complexity of network neutrality and emerging broadband markets. European policy, on the other hand, may have the potential to employ a dynamic regulatory mechanism that allows for targeting more regulatory errors at once; however, it fails to live up to this promise with network neutrality.
Therefore, this Article recommends that U.S. policymakers develop an analytic and dynamic regulatory model for network neutrality, which builds on European precedent yet learns from European regulatory mistakes. A practical reform scenario suggests that such a model is best implemented by the FCC, which has the opportunity to draft a comprehensive national broadband plan under the Recovery Act. With regard to its national broadband plan, the FCC should position itself to monitor broadband markets and deal with network neutrality in a flexible and transparent manner.
This is how to regulate broadband markets - no special pleading, no capture - competition authorities deal with bigger boys than telecoms incumbents every day, which is why we should give at least two cheers (already!) that Guiseppe Conte is heading the net neutrality issue in Neelie Kroes' cabinet - he had dealt in the past in DG COMP with power network mergers, amongst other things - compared to which I am assured that telecoms network competition is small beer.
It makes our own Ed (see below) look good by comparison, though note my caution when regulators reel off the achievements of incumbents and their 'superfast' broadband - or 'hallucinating competition' (c/o D. Burstein).
The revolving door between regulator and lobbyist that I may have hinted at in the past, seems to be alive and well in DC. As Orwell would write and this glorious adaption shows, the pigs looked at the farmers, and the farmers looked at the pigs...
Thursday, March 04, 2010
Strangely he says 'people have begun to raise an eyebrow' - well it was Charlie Dunstone's gotcha moment at the 2006 conference...
he says 'no-one has come to us and lodged a formal complaint' and that it could be 5-10 years out.
Hmmm, didn't consumers complain back in 2006? I realize they are not "players".
Richard Waters keeps feeding him deregulatory questions, and he bats them away somewhat.
"My sense is that had we done this a year or two ago, we'd have had only a modest response" - I do wish you'd tried, Ed, I think you'd have had an unpleasant surprise! Damned good reason not to ask, of course.
Let the games commence (well, actually I've said most of what I wanted about the issue to Ofcom).
Meanwhile, the Master (Kevin Werbach) has posted on the third part of his trilogy of Internet regulation articles: what a book those would make. Kevin, do you hear? Book (makes it easier for us lazy readers to get all the wisdom in one place).
Also, do look at how the music lawyers are screwing up their industry in 'The tragedy of the digital commons' - so that less people are consuming legitimate AND file-shared music. Watch the movie biz follow them.
Finally, there's a great little provocative analysis by George Ford at the Phoenix Center, predicting perverse consequences from net neutrality regulation - all the more reason to keep co-regulation away from lawyers? As Ofcom states below, its about transparency with purpose. As George says (I paraphrase), the principle of net neutrality may be getting lost in the DC post-snowpocalypse mudbath.
Second, the reported version has a few more interesting and frankly less constructive comments than the text on the Ofcom site, though this may just be sloppy journalism by the Financial Times:"The scale of deployment of next-generation “superfast” broadband networks would depend on greater clarity on the issue, Mr Richards said. Ofcom will publish its initial proposals “later in the spring”, aiming to settle its position by the end of the year. While the regulator is likely to avoid the “highly interventionist” approach taken in America, due to greater competition in the UK, broadband providers may be required to be more transparent about how they manage their web traffic."
Well, did he say 'highly interventionist'? Anyone?
UPDATE: I am told that the journalist's spin on what was a constructive speech was a bit of a surprise....
UPDATE 2: Well, perhaps TalkTalk really is about to provide proper backhaul competition to BT and Virgin? This appeared yesterday and promises much, hopefully delivering soon.
Second, the current incumbent (subject to the next General Election where Murdoch has him in his sights, though nothing is certain in these grubby political fights), has made his most detailed speech about net neutrality, with some interesting stuff about net neutrality and some rather hackneyed stuff about the US and European legislators.
First, the good stuff, which ends the speech:
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
We'll be holding our first Authors@Google EU talk over lunch on Thursday 18 March, and we hope you'll be able to come along (register here). Kicking off the series, Chris Marsden, Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Essex, will present the key arguments from his new book: Net Neutrality: Towards a Co-Regulatory Solution (2010, Bloomsbury Academic. Visit their site for a Creative Commons download.)
Monday, March 01, 2010
But lets give her credit where its due. In 1990, the Federal Trade Commission began its inquiry into Microsoft Windows pricing/bundling policies. In 1997, the great State of Texas (full disclosure: I am an honorary citizen), began its landmark antitrust action against Microsoft for bundling Internet Explorer into Windows95 - which it fought to the bitter end in 2004, even though Dubya's DoJ spat the dummy.
Today marks the day that Microsoft finally is giving consumers a (somewhat redundant and almost mandatory) choice of browser under settlement of the EC case which began in 1993 (Novell) and again 1998 (Sun). Its in your Update - I keep having to stop it happening as I use Chrome - that address/search bar is bundled genius.
And just as the Roaming Regulation is carried over from Commissioner Reding, so this remedy is carried over from Commissioner Kroes. So well done!
That brings me to the complaint against Google. I am expecting 20 years of activity on this, too - though as with Microsoft and its Passport/.NET case, I expect Google to find its relations with privacy law - yes, Mme Reding - to become sticky long before any antitrust action. I have a research student engaged in research in this field, and its only tangentially relevant to net neutrality (its a counter-attack aided by Vodafone and Microsoft if you believe the rumours and of course the Barcelona speeches at the Congress).
Gloves are off, battle will commence.
No sooner has the case of the £8000-mugged Brit student come out in the press, than the Commissioner issues an excellent consumer-saving decision - from 1 July, no bill above 50euros will be permitted unless set by the consumer before leaving their own country. Operators simply cut off service at that point, presumably sending a text to the subscriber at which point they can contact their operator and resume service.
The hope and expectation is that once users realize how shockingly high their per MB charges are, that will help put pressure on operators to reduce them to something more reasonable - we will see.
Its on BBC but not yet on her website - soon, soon...Well done, Neelie! Bravo!
P.S. I realize that (in the works since June 2009) but its a good start and great publicity.... I'm willing to bet the Commissioner has to revisit this in 1-2 years as people appreciate that what should be a 5-10% difference in home v. roaming on their OWN network (T-Mob, Orange, Vodafone) is actually only regulated as a wholesale 20,000% markup. That's quite ridiculous.
Incidentally, 3 of course let me roam in other 3 countries for no more than I do at home, seems they believed in a free market: http://www.three.co.uk/_standalone/Link_Document?content_aid=1220455423498
That said, when they reduced EU voice roaming charges, they did - you guessed it - hike up the roaming rates from North America.
Its time that Ms Kroes and Chair Genachowski sat down to thrash out a 'ground breaking' deal on trans-Atlantic roaming?