Friday, July 27, 2012

Analyzing the UK Voluntary Code of Conduct: shadowing co-regulation?

The horse designed by a committee which is the Voluntary Code of Conduct on negative discrimination (net neutrality 'lite') is so voluntary that Voda, EE and Virgin won't sign up as the porridge is variously considered too hot/cold. It has some very interesting language that marks ISPs' attempt to show they have kowtowed to Ofcom's air shot across their bows from last November:
"The signatories to this code therefore believe that it is right that Ofcom take ownership of this issue and also believe that the new proposed process will be a useful input to Ofcom as it continues its work in monitoring the nature and impact of traffic management practices in the market and the effective co-existence of managed services and best efforts internet access.
"It is clear that the voluntary commitments being made in this code closely relate to ongoing monitoring work Ofcom has said that it will conduct. Signatories to this code are happy to discuss with Ofcom how its future work plans regarding open internet issues could support or input into a review of these voluntary commitments."
Not very edifying bit of horse-trading (or camel auctioning), is it? In fact, it's terribly reminiscent of the industry garbage being spouted about misleading advertising, over broadband speeds. The idea that content providers might lodge an unresolved complaint with the Broadband Stakeholder Group (see Annex 1) instead of going direct to Ofcom or the EC (or more likely a supportive Euro-MP) is frankly ludicrous - I predict now that there will be almost exactly zero such farcical reports from BSG to Ofcom in 2013.
When will Ofcom engage in heavier persuasion to persuade ISPs to come up with a workable solution? I suspect it will take a new minister at the very least, and possibly a new government, though the Labour Party's Harriet Harman's latest pronouncements on copyright send a shudder through anyone interested in consumer protection. Remember that the #DEAct was a cross-party Labour-originated move.
UPDATE: Skype sort of likes the Code, but adds that Ofcom should produce an Annual Open Internet Report (which in any case should be a future part of the EC Implementation Report as part of its commitments made to the European Parliament in the 2009 Net Neutrality Declaration). That's a much more likely place to report than the BSG.
'via Blog this'

UK botches net neutrality regulation

TelecomTV | News | UK botches net neutrality regulation: "You might think “self regulation” must have had its political day in the UK in the wake of the LIBOR banking and the newspaper phone hacking scandals (ongoing), but here we go again with a voluntary net neutrality code. It’s been cosily drawn up to suit the very companies that need the closest watching and so, naturally, it is just a collection of loosely-described escape hatches.
In fact it’s so bad that two of the UK’s big providers won’t sign. Virgin Media (the single remaining UK cable company) says it doesn’t go far enough and is too vague. On the other side of the argument, according to the BBC, Vodafone implies it goes too far and is impractical because it means some services that it already deploys won’t be able to be called ‘Internet Access’. And there is the big escape hatch."
'via Blog this'

Thursday, July 26, 2012

UK Net Neutrality - moving towards the right idea? Or away...

UK Net Neutrality - moving towards the right idea - Dean Bubley: "There's a bit of semantic wiggle-room here, with "blocked" not necessarily including "degraded", but I suspect Ofcom will come down like a ton of bricks on anyone following the letter and not the spirit of the thing, not to mention considerable PR and competitor opprobium). The stated ability to do traffic management to avoid serious congestion, block child-unsuitable material, avoid DDoS attacks etc also seems reasonable.
Supposedly, about 10 ISPs have signed up, but reportedly Vodafone hasn't because it thinks it's too restrictive about the term "Internet Access", and Virgin Media thinks its too laxly-worded and wants loopholes tightened up. In my view, Vodafone: you need to grit your teeth and sign. Internet is Internet is Internet. If you want to sell something else, I'm sure your marketing  department is smart enough to come up with another brand. I can even give you some advisory input if you get in touch. (How about "Internet-flavoured access"?)"
I wish I could agree with Dean's very sunny conclusion - but frankly, the lack of EE, Voda and Virgin makes this less useful than a chocolate teapot so far, despite many actors' good intentions and Ofcom's hard work trying to achieve consensus where none exists.
In truth, consumers need co-regulation here, not this soft procedure.
'via Blog this'

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

ISPs split over UK net neutrality - cable and two biggest mobile ISPs refuse to sign

BBC News - ISPs split over UK open internet code of practice: "The businesses which declined said they all supported the idea of an open internet, but had qualms about the code itself. Virgin Media suggested the circumstances under which traffic management practices could be deployed needed to be defined more strictly.
Vodafone said the code was "impractical" as it would have restricted how it marketed its packages
"These principles remain open to misinterpretation and potential exploitation so, while we welcome efforts to reach a broad consensus to address future potential issues, we will be seeking greater clarity before we consider signing," said a spokesman. Vodafone said it objected to the agreement because of the restrictions it would impose on the way it marketed some of its subscription packages." "These plans offer internet access to smartphone and dongle users, but under the code we would have been unable to use the phrase 'internet access' to describe many of the services enjoyed by customers," a spokesman explained.
Everything Everywhere - which runs the T-Mobile and Orange mobile networks - said it was simply not ready to join. "We believe it is too early to know how a code of this type will affect customers' internet experience, but it is something we will continually review," said a spokeswoman.The Broadband Stakeholder Group said it believed the code did have the "right approach", but "could not comment on the individual views of non-signatories". 'via Blog this'

ITU's Landmark Decisions: no idea what multistakeholderism means

ITU's Landmark Decisions: Bill Smith nails the government gerrymandering: "I believe the landmark nature of the ITU's decision lies not in the decision itself, but in the expectation that the world will accept the ITU's interpretation of terms like open, transparent, equitable, and consultation. The ITU would have us believe that making a single document available to the public is evidence of openness and transparency. Similarly, we are expected to believe that the creation of a web page or invitation to a brief "pre-meeting" constitute adequate public or expert consultation...The best the Council could do was to make a single, difficult to understand document available to the public and to permit the public to submit WCIT-related comments through a web page. Truly a turning point.'via Blog this'

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Report on the OECD/BEREC Workshop on Interconnection and Regulation

A Report on the OECD/BEREC Workshop on Interconnection and Regulation: from Geoff Huston "perhaps I am increasingly intolerant of this kind of opportunistic posturing that attempts to portray as viable what is more along the lines of ill-conceived and inefficient adornments to the common substrate of an amazingly efficient and brutally simple IP architecture. However, perhaps I'm not alone in holding that view (although others may not be so extreme in their dismissal of them). The workshop's reception to the ETNO position on inter-provider QoS and the generic stance of "sender pays" was certainly chilly at this particular meeting, and indeed could even be termed distinctly frosty! It also appeared to me that ETNO itself is increasingly aware that there is a risk that maintaining this public stance, as it undermines, to some extent, their own considerable credibility and authority in the industry." 'via Blog this'

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

EU Consumer organisation pushes for EU net neutrality rules

From MEP Marietje Schaake: Blog: Consumer organisation pushes for EU net neutrality rules: "Consumer organisation pushes for EU net neutrality rules: 16.07.2012: European Consumer Organisation BEUC sent a letter to Commissioner Neelie Kroes, urging her to propose net neutrality regulation in the EU...the need for such rules has been clearly demonstrated by the findings of the investigation completed by BEREC, the European telecom regulator." 'via Blog this'

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Comcast-NBC pays FCC $800k to settle Internet-only suspected breach

Business - "When federal regulators approved Comcast Corp.’s takeover of a 51 percent stake in NBCUniversal last year, they imposed various conditions on the nation’s largest cable TV provider, including those that would protect the burgeoning Internet video marketplace and promote the spread of broadband Internet access. One of the conditions called on Comcast to offer stand-alone broadband Internet access services at reasonable prices and with sufficient bandwidth to customers who don’t pay to get Comcast’s cable TV service. The Federal Communications Commission launched an investigation after it received information suggesting that Comcast wasn’t adequately marketing the service.
On Wednesday, the FCC said Comcast has agreed to pay the government $800,000 and offer a broadband Internet access option to customers who don’t subscribe to the cable company’s video cable services. It’s part of a deal to settle the investigation. "
'via Blog this'

Monday, July 02, 2012

South Korean telcos get OK to charge extra for mobile VOIP apps

South Korean telcos get OK to charge extra for mobile VOIP apps | ITworldIn a move that has critics crying that it is ignoring net neutrality principles, the Korea Communications Commission said last week that it will let three local mobile operators, SK Telecom, KT and LG U+, charge users extra fees for VOIP applications or block their use entirely. Korea's top mVoIP app, KakaoTalk, has gained rapid popularity among smartphone users. 
The Korean government released its open Internet guidelines last year, designed after the U.S. network neutrality rules released by the Federal Communications Commission last year. Under these principles, consumers can make their own choices about what applications and services to use and what content they want to access, create or share with others. Unofficially, the KCC has already permitted telecoms to enact policies of their choice regarding third-party apps, experts say."
'via Blog this'