Total Pageviews

Friday, April 22, 2011

Euro-sclerosis and non-neutrality

As is well-known, we Euros are neo-corporatist cheese-eating surrender monkeys, and that's pretty much our attitude to net neutrality. A social democrat majority Parliament rattled Commissioner Reding's cage in May 2009 by rejecting the whole revision of telecoms law, and hence a compromise on net neutrality was quickly cobbled together.
Now it's 2011, and we have new Commissioner Kroes and a Christian Democrat-and-hangers-on Parliament with an far-right wing party in the Committee chair. (That's because the anti-European integration UK Conservatives left the Christian Democrats and joined with several hairy racist Eastern European parties just to the left of the ultras).
So net neutrality is an embarrassing parting odour left in the room after the Social Democrat-Green-Liberal majority left the room - and it's opposed by equipment giants, the huge incumbents and the right wing parties.
Hence this week, an abject non-report was delivered 4 months later than promised, sparsely populated with less-than-half truths and reheating the 'hear no evil see no evil' Wise Monkeys performance from last year: "general consensus that traffic management is necessary to ensure the smooth flow of Internet traffic... broad agreement that operators should be allowed to determine their own business models and commercial arrangements." Really?
So what is new? Well, three things:
[1] EC is not taking a lead in evidence gathering - it's handing that to the national regulators' club BEREC, which has not even updated its website to announce this - most of whose members are too industry-driven, captured by competition economists or technically incompetent to spot an infringement - Neelie says "At the end of 2011, I will publish the results, including any instances of blocking or throttling certain types of traffic." 
[2] only if that somehow by a miracle produces evidence of widespread infringement - which appears to have been redefined to only include Madison River style smoking-gun Skype blocking - will the EC take any action, namely recommending more legislative measures such as setting EU-wide rules on what can/cannot be permitted (shouldn't they have done that already?) - Neelie: "If I am not satisfied, I will not hesitate to come up with more stringent measures, which may take the form of guidance." 
[3] "If this proves to be insufficient, I am ready to prohibit the blocking of lawful services or applications."
I think that means guidance early in 2012 (after all, the timetable for the non-report slipped by 4 months already), and then actual regulatory action maybe as early as 2013. Nice timing for a second edition of my book which was written in spring 2009. Also par for the course given the ludicrous length of time it took to take any effective measures against Microsoft (nearly six years after it found against the company).
I spent Wednesday in the glorious spring weather in Oxford, MD - so read this non-news but could not be bothered to post on such a non-event.

No comments: