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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Network Management Guide by George Ou

I have been alerted to a paper on network management written for Washington that is now circulating in Brussels, by journalist Ou, written in his role at the ITIF, from which the excellent Weiser/Atkinson paper emerged in 2006.

This paper trashes net neutrality extremists (what The Register calls "freetards") in a way that I find unhelpful in both tone and substance as they're not the only NN proponents, but nevertheless generally its not a bad document - but be very aware of several items that are much more related to the Washington debate:
[1] the proponents of NN in general DO NOT want to entirely outlaw all network management - at least not in my experience. He is generalising from the lunatic fringe.
[2] for reasons I don't understand, he talks about network management ensuring users always get more than their ISP's minimum promise: "If a network can be built to guarantee 1 megabit per second (Mbps) of performance for each user, for example, it can just as easily offer the customer 1 Mbps of guaranteed performance and up to 20 Mbps of unguaranteed performance."
BUT in the UK and elsewhere in Europe, ISPs advertise misleading claims based on maximum THEORETICAL speeds - so their dishonesty means that they ALWAYS over-promise and under-deliver.
[3] He acknowledges three incumbent-paid technical experts - including the excellent Bob Briscoe from BT.

However, he is calling for significantly MORE regulation of ISPs if you read closely, and this I agree with:
"the FCC should oversee broadband providers and ensure that ISP network management practices are open, transparent and not anti-competitive. And the ISP industry should continue its efforts to develop and abide by industry codes of good conduct regarding network management that include, but are not limited to, fuller and more transparent disclosure to consumers of network management practices."

However, he drops it in at the end of both his executive summary and the paper itself, so I assume this is an after-thought as a result of editing/comments by someone else. That's a pity, as it offers balance and shows just how little information ISPs are willing voluntarily to give their customers.

If I can add some information that is actually useful to make that information regulation actually effective, then I would offer the Norwegian solution here. Now that's effective co-regulation of traffic management to ensure transparency and non-discrimination - not just lip service to consumer demands;-)

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