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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Green light for UK ISPs to discriminate

Sitting in Philadelphia, reading with interest though no great surprise that ISPs are given carte blanche to breach net neutrality under Action 2 in Carter's interim report:
"Internet Service Providers can take action to manage the flow of data – the traffic – on their networks to retain levels of service to users or for other reasons. The concept of so-called ‘net neutrality’, requires those managing a network to refrain from taking action to manage traffic on that network. It also prevents giving to the delivery of any one service preference over the delivery of others. Net neutrality is sometimes cited by various parties in defence of internet freedom, innovation and consumer choice. The debate over possible legislation in pursuit of this goal has been stronger in the US than in the UK. Ofcom has in the past acknowledged the claims in the debate but have also acknowledged that ISPs might in future wish to offer guaranteed service levels to content providers in exchange for increased fees. In turn this could lead to differentiation of offers and promote investment in higher-speed access networks. Net neutrality regulation might prevent this sort of innovation.
"Ofcom has stated that provided consumers are properly informed, such new business models could be an important part of the investment case for Next Generation Access, provided consumers are properly informed.
"On the same basis, the Government has yet to see a case for legislation in favour of net neutrality. In consequence, unless Ofcom find network operators or ISPs to have Significant Market Power and justify intervention on competition grounds, traffic management will not be prevented."

In particular, note the continuing obsession with it only being BT who might be regulated as the dominant operator - when throttling goes on all over the ISPs. I am rather impressed that the report chooses the expression 'so-called net neutrality' - as in 'so-called fiscal stimulus'. The debate is about net neutrality, it exists, deal with it better than this.

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