Friday, April 29, 2011

Genachowski - net neutrality done - AT&T/T-Mobile next battle

In conversation: "You know, when I was confirmed, we inherited a real mess around net neutrality.  The agency had been enforcing net neutrality principles, but without ever adopting them as formal rules, and without any clarity on what the rules actually were... The rules in fact were a mess and were subsequently struck down by a court.... And we ran quite a long process, 14 months, from notice of proposed rulemaking to decision.  In December we adopted a framework, open Internet rules on the books... So, the core issues are, from an FCC perspective, behind us.  We've moved forward onto other issues.  Basic protections for Internet freedom and openness are now in place."

Gaddafi on the Internet

Its always good to hear the colonel's views on subjects to which he has applied his mind, and as we use the Internet to avoid the avalanche of non-news that traditional media is consumed with today, it's instructive to consider that those in power hate the lack of censorship on the Internet ('Kleenex' is Wikileaks, not code for Berlusconi's soirees):
"This Internet, which any demented person, any drunk can get drunk and write in, do you believe it? The Internet is like a vacuum cleaner, it can suck anything. Any useless person; any liar; any drunkard; anyone under the influence; anyone high on drugs; can talk on the Internet, and you read what he writes and you believe it. This is talk which is for free. Shall we become the victims of "Facebook" and "Kleenex" and "YouTube"! Shall we become victims to tools they created so that they can laugh at our moods? We decide our destiny, based on facts and our needs. Besides, this is not the era of blood, of smoke, of burning, of knives and axes; this is the era of the people, and supposedly the era of democracy. Everything is by election and referendum, ie, through the people's direct authority, which is the people's direct democracy, and not through rumours, and Facebook, and YouTube, and the Kleenex and the cables of American Ambassadors. This world wide web Internet is laughing at us and damaging our countries; it is tearing up our clothes; and killing our children for it."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

LibDem Internet savvy MP on net neutrality

Happens to be my MP, and is new enough to Westminster that he still speaks sense: "There are any number of questions that remain unanswered at a political level. The vexed issue of net neutrality, for instance, is one that has continued to prove difficult for government Ministers to address; Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries, even gave a speech which was interpreted by one side as signalling open season on traffic management, and by the other as a reiteration of the importance of neutrality. He then issued a textbook Whitehall clarification: that is, one that muddied the waters yet further. The debate over net neutrality goes to the heart of digital policy. Is it genuinely liberal to allow competition on the basis of existing service providers offering different packages based on traffic management which favours one company over another? Or is it, instead, better to provide what is often called a level playing field – where traffic flows at the same speed, whatever the content and whoever owns and operates the website?"

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Going Dutch: KPN challenges Kroes' analysis

With perfect timing (warning: link to Murdoch op-ed in WSJ), KPN Mobile has decided to charge extra for IM (a trivially low bandwidth service) including Skype, as well as video. Video I can understand (just), even though that involves distinguishing by type, but Skype and IM Bloking are just blatantly anti-competitive, aggressive moves by new CEO Blok.
I look forward to the Dutch Commissioner's active response, given that the Dutch regulator is about to be gutted and merged with the competition and consumer bodies a la Australia. We all know how well the ACCC has regulated Telstra, only being allowed to get to grips with it once the National Broadband Network has been developed.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Net neutrality in action: Virgin Media's strange superhub

If Ofcom was minded to take net neutrality seriously, they might ask some serious questions about Virgin Media's throttling and indeed crashing its users; Internet connections over the past several months - read the comments and you will see some invidious and technically ridiculous measures are being taken to traffic shape. But as the EC and BEREC might say: nothing to see here, move along..."The EU telecoms market is already healthily competitive. If an online service provider is confronted with extra charges for their content, they'll just tell the ISP to take a hike. It's a false debate." Dreamers...

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.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Responses to consultation on 2000/31/EC still not online

Dear sirs - The consultation on revision of the E-Commerce Directive closed on 5 November 2010, but none of the responses has appeared on your website? Sincerely Dr Chris Marsden

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Quebec to provide $900mCAN stimulus funding for fibre

[Via Bill St Arnaud] As I sit in Montreal with pricey but decent cable broadband, this state government budget item shows the government taking rural and suburban fibre seriously:
Page 96: The implementation of a strategy for the digital economy: To address these important issues for economic development in Quebec, the government intends to implement a strategy for the digital economy. The strategy's main objective is to increase the capacity of citizens, businesses and organizations to take full advantage of possibilities offered by digital technologies. Quebec's strategy seeks primarily to provide Quebec with a network providing high speed Internet service in all regions of Quebec by 2020.
For Quebec to take its place among the digital companies, modern and prosperous investments totaling $900 million in infrastructure will be [made] by 2020... It is expected that 20% of this sum will be invested in various suburban areas in Quebec, while the remaining amount will be spent in the more remote areas. The success of this strategy involves the development and enhancement of capacity of existing infrastructure, both public and private. It is expected that these strategic investments will be made largely on networks currently in place. The deployment strategy will therefore pressing the assets installed in the territory of Quebec.

The real effect of bandwidth caps on fibre broadband

A gushing article about PlusNet's FTTC "up to 40Mb/s" service reveals that it is capped at 40GB/month. Hmm, so 8000seconds at "up to" full speed (sic).
That's just over 2 hours. A month.
Canadians don't know how lucky they are (through Michael Geist) - or BT broadband users.
UPDATE: Its worth noting that the OECD stats on minutes to reach monthly bitcap would put PlusNet in the bottom third - but the stats used are from 2008, and one hopes history is demonstrating evolution rather than retardation.

EU/US agree to prise open 3rd party ICT markets

I do hope this applies to China? It is essentially a bilateral attempt to extend the World Trade Organisation's Information Technology Agreement to broaden both scale and scope and eliminate non-tariff barriers, which the EU has previously pushed for.
And if so, on what conditions will EU and US companies be selling their ICT equipment, notably Deep Packet Inspection kit? On Hillary and Neelie's terms, as in the ten principles laid out? Or those ten principles of the multistakeholder Internet Rights & Principles Coalition? Its worth comparing the two, which establishes at least some overlap albeit that one is written in trade liberalisation-ese and the other in human rights-ese:

EU/US Principles of ICT Trade with 3rd Parties
Internet Rights & Principles Coalition
Transparency of rules affecting trade in ICT and ICT services
Universality and Equality: All humans are born free and equal in dignity and rights, which must be respected, protected and fulfilled in the online environment.
Open networks for consumers to access and distribute information, applications and services of their choice
Rights and Social Justice: The Internet is a space for the promotion, protection and fulfilment of human rights and the advancement of social justice. Everyone has the duty to respect the human rights of all others in the online environment.
Cross-border flows of information
Accessibility: Everyone has an equal right to access and use a secure and open Internet.
No requirement to use local infrastructure for ICT services
Expression and Association: Everyone has the right to seek, receive, and impart information freely on the Internet without censorship or other interference. Everyone also has the right to associate freely through and on the Internet, for social, political, cultural or other purposes.
Governments should allow full foreign participation in their ICT services sector, through establishment or other means
Privacy and Data Protection: Everyone has the right to privacy online. This includes freedom from surveillance, the right to use encryption, and the right to online anonymity. Everyone also has the right to data protection, including control over personal data collection, retention, processing, disposal and disclosure.
Efficient and maximised use of radio spectrum
Life, Liberty and Security: The rights to life, liberty, and security must be respected, protected and fulfilled online. These rights must not be infringed upon, or used to infringe other rights, in the online environment.
Independence of regulatory authorities overseeing ICT services
Diversity: Cultural and linguistic diversity on the Internet must be promoted, and technical and policy innovation should be encouraged to facilitate plurality of expression.
Simple authorisation of competitive telecommunications services
Network Equality: Everyone shall have universal and open access to the Internet's content, free from discriminatory prioritisation, filtering or traffic control on commercial, political or other grounds.
ICT service suppliers must have the right to interconnect with other service providers for access to publicly available telecommunications networks and services. Public telecom services suppliers should be able to negotiate and obtain interconnection with major suppliers at cost-oriented, non-discriminatory and transparent rates.  
Standards and Regulation
The Internet's architecture, communication systems, and document and data formats shall be based on open standards that ensure complete interoperability, inclusion and equal opportunity for all.
International cooperation with a view to increasing the level of digital literacy in third countries and reducing the 'digital divide'.
Governance: Human rights and social justice must form the legal and normative foundations upon which the Internet operates and is governed. This shall happen in a transparent and multilateral manner, based on principles of openness, inclusive participation and accountability.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Court chucks Verizon's net-neutrality appeal; company will refile - The Hill's Hillicon Valley

Court chucks Verizon's net-neutrality appeal; company will refile - The Hill's Hillicon Valley: "The FCC rules face a longer time period than usual for arriving in the Federal Register because of holdups in the Paperwork Reduction Act (Ed: kersnick, kersnick). The act triggered a 60-day comment period at the FCC, ending April 10. This is the second setback Verizon has faced in its appeal process. The court dismissed in February a push by Verizon to assign the case to a particular panel of judges who have expressed skepticism of net-neutrality regulations in the past."