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Monday, September 09, 2013

Ofcom's traffic management survey - highlights

Ofcom had a market research company conduct a multi-stage survey of consumers to find out if net neutrality was important to them, though without using the term as Ofcom doesn't like it. In a 63-page report (7.4MB took 2 minutes to download on Virgin LLU on Wifi at 10pm), the term only came up to sum up Ofcom's 2011 statement dismissing net neutrality. They also didn't use the term 'open Internet', the FCC/EC preferred alternative. They only once used the term 'throttled' to illustrate the most invasive possible practices.  Here's the eureka moment at p31: "once the term and processes of traffic management were explained to them 35% of these respondents felt that they may have been affected by these processes". Unsurprisingly (p35) "It was clear that most were not aware of the underlying processes supporting the internet or how it operates." Not exactly shocking. Nor was "consumers state a preference for information being provided in online formats and by 3rd party independent sources" (p37). Pages 60-61 contain the joyous slides to explain what net neutrality is.
This proves the need for neutral consumer champions to find out what ISPs are doing and stop it if it harms their Internet connection - especially when it's blocking or throttling rival applications such as VOIP or media streams. The same of course applies to ISPs routinely providing a slower connection than advertised. Such a champion should be called a 'neutrality regulator' not a traffic manager.
Interesting above all is that this research was carried out at all. It is rather like research on smart metering. If the consumer doesn't know what's going on, they also don't know what's going wrong. Ask the remote workers if it's wrong to throttle Skype during the working day? That might raise a flicker of recognition.

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