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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lazy lobbyists and greedy cable companies

I think this little piece on the Washington Post op-ed establishes quite nicely that lazy journalism fed by lobbyists will continue its kabuki theatre inside the Beltway. They own you, Congress...

Japan to review guidelines on traffic shaping?

Japan instituted its Guidelines on Traffic Shaping in April 2008 (thanks to Marvin Sirbu for the link) - which is an agreement between ISPs following discussion with regulators and content industries.
It is a narrow exception to the net neutrality principle, based on throttling P2P - the fibre networks in Japan have been used by P2P 'seeders' (megahubs) to use up to 50% of the network's capacity by only 1% of subscribers.
It has a review clause, and in view of reviews in the US, Europe, Canada et al, it will be interesting to see what any review produces.

Going Dutch: conclusions from TPRC and Gikii on net neutrality

Now recovering from my September of conferences, and ready to put some conclusions forward.
1. The FCC NPRM will be a highly political process - even though it will have brilliant people at the FCC end - Sharon Gillett at Wireline (newly installed), Jon Peha as CTO and Kevin Werbach as eminence grise and allround excellent person.
2. What they really need is an extension of the panel discussion Saturday morning and a round-chair session that evening with Dave Clark. This stuff is technically hard and needs the lawyers to sit in a corner listening for a few weeks (fat chance...) - and learn from Norway and Japan.
3. I predict that European NRAs will do nothing about net neutrality for a couple of years while they get busy with implementing the Package ready for 2011 - except the Dutch who will go for a US-style solution. Why?
4. Because the Dutch
[b] they're a genuinely progressive administration at OPTA and the Ministry;
5. The Commission needs them to show the rest how its done.
So good luck to the US (they'll need it), the Dutch, and God help the rest of us!

Conciliation Committee in Europe will only meet to remove Amendment 138

Unsurprisingly, the EP and Council are not reopening the Telecoms Package so the existing text on net neutrality survives, and all that remains is to remove Amendment 138 on the right to a trial before piracy-inspired suspension. (Thanks to Monica Horten for info and good to put a face to the blawg at the SCL Policy Forum!)

Traffic Management For Pennies On Every DSL Line

From Dave Burstein: the tools for proper discrimination are here
"LSI's "Service-Aware" upgrades allow carriers to control and traffic manage every line at a cost that works out to pennies per month per subscriber...A chip to control 24 to 96 lines typically costs less than $100, perhaps $1-2/customer. Over four years of DSLAM life, that's four or five cents per month."
Its hard to see in his conclusion worrying signs for Europe:
"I believe politics is only one reason Network Neutrality hasn't been abused often so far. Until now the equipment just didn't have the ability to do the line by line fine tuning required to selectively favor and disfavor. That limit is being rapidly overcome by LSI and half a dozen other vendors. Carriers will soon have the ability to do almost anything they want to maximize revenue from your line."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Skype lobbying in Europe to follow US

Nice piece on the work of Skype's public affairs team, led by Stephen Collins, ex-Yahoo! They're predicting the European debate will be enlivened by the decisions in Norway, Japan and now the US.

Economist sensible on net neutrality

The Economist realizes Genachowski's proposals make sense and are minimal:
"the FCC’s proposals strike a sensible balance between the need to guard against discrimination and wireless operators’ need to manage the huge demands placed on their networks by web-surfing smart-phone users. Reasonable network management will still be allowed and the commission says it will consider alleged violations of its non-discrimination rule on a case-by-case basis. The telecoms companies’ grumbling may be designed to ensure that such commitments are not watered down during the formal rulemaking process that will begin next month."

Net Neutrality no longer scares the horses

More and more Europeans appear to understand what's at stake (Yasmin was very accurate, she clearly gets it!) - openness and the Internet. The 'so-called' US debate may be creaking into life here...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Digital Economy Bill set for November

The Bill will include, alongside Three Strikes, the following:

  • delivering a universally available broadband in the UK by 2012 through a public fund, including funds released from the digital television switchover help scheme;
  • giving the sectoral regulator, Ofcom, two new duties: first, to promote investment in infrastructure and content alongside its duties to promote competition; and second, to carry out a full assessment of the UK's communications infrastructure every two years; to ensure that the UK has a first class and resilient communications infrastructure;
  • creating a robust legal and regulatory framework to combat illegal file sharing and other forms of online copyright infringement and give Ofcom a specific new responsibility to significantly reduce this practice, including two specific obligations on Internet Service Providers: the notification of unlawful activity and, for alleged serial-infringers, collation of data to allow rights holders to obtain court orders to force the release of personal details, enabling legal action to be taken against them;
  • implementing the recommendations of the Byron Review published in June 2008, to put age ratings of computer games on a statutory footing for ratings of 12 years and above. This will be achieved through the adoption of a new and strengthened system of classification for boxed video games with a strong UK based statutory layer of regulation, ensuring protection for children.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Strange Ofcom self-puffery on Openreach

Its 4 years since the BT voluntary undertakings, and Ofcom is claiming that its been a great success in terms of LLU, price reductions and household penetration - which is not borne out by international comparisons with sall these metrics, it wins outimilar countries who were also late adopters, such as France, our nearest neighbour. On all these metrics, it has been more successful, and its fibre roll-out plans are far more advanced.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Genachowski: THE net neutrality speech 2

He discusses how to achieve transparency as well as non-discrimination in a Notice of Proposed Rule Making - and it looks very like the Canadian inquiry from June this year:
'the notice will ask for input and feedback on the proposed rules and their application, such as how to determine whether network management practices are reasonable, and what information broadband providers should disclose about their network management practices and in what form. And -- as I indicated earlier -- it will pose a series of detailed questions on how the Internet openness principles should apply to mobile broadband.'

Genachowski: THE net neutrality speech

No-one has ever nailed their colours so firmly to the net neutrality mast - some excerpts:
'broadband providers’ rational bottom-line interests may diverge from the broad interests of consumers in competition and choice.'
'because it is vital that the Internet continue to be an engine of innovation, economic growth, competition and democratic engagement, I believe the FCC must be a smart cop on the beat preserving a free and open Internet.'
The fifth principle is one of non-discrimination -- stating that broadband providers cannot discriminate against particular Internet content or applications.

'This means they cannot block or degrade lawful traffic over their networks, or pick winners by favoring some content or applications over others in the connection to subscribers’ homes. Nor can they disfavor an Internet service just because it competes with a similar service offered by that broadband provider...This principle will not prevent broadband providers from reasonably managing their networks. During periods of network congestion, for example, it may be appropriate for providers to ensure that very heavy users do not crowd out everyone else. And this principle will not constrain efforts to ensure a safe, secure, and spam-free Internet experience, or to enforce the law.'

All good so far!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

More on PHORM and the EC

PHORM may no longer have a UK ISP partner, and its ex-BT technical guy is leaving - having engineered opt-in for customers (an option he didn't give them when conducting trials from inside BT in 2006-7). PHORM results are out next week and we can expect this story to die down a little for a while - with the EC not commenting on further action against the UK government for its complicity and poor implementation of European law on opt-out.

Friday, September 18, 2009

SCL Forum: After the Crunch Monday

Off to the SCL Forum on Monday - always good speakers and good ideas - anti-Gikii in terms of being very corporate but also an excellent perspective!

Reding to stay on as INFSO Commissioner?

Barroso voted in for a new term by the EuroParliament - so speculation that ally Viviane Reding will. She's quite the consumer champion these days...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ridiculous Advertising Standards Authority refuses Sky throttling ad

Sky tries to explain that BT and Virgin choke peaktime heavy users - and gets slapped down by the usually do-nothing ASA! Can't they inform customers that they don't throttle heavy users? Where's the transparency?

GiKii tomorrow

Off to Sleazyjet to Schipol for tomoprrow's GikIV-fest!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Nazis against net neutrality

"If we are there (net neutrality), then we can pack up and go home. It's important to have some way to have some sort of quality of service," said George Nazi, president, 21CN and global networks and computing infrastructure, BT, speaking Wednesday on a panel of service providers at Broadband World Forum Europe.

Future Internet workshop

Today I'm in a scenario group in the European Commission's Future of the Internet project run by Ian Brown at the Oxford Internet Institute - all very interesting stuff, including discussions on net neutrality.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Meanwhile at the FCC...

While the EC seems determined to ignore net neutrality in the renegotiation of the Telecoms Package this autumn, the FCC has reaffirmed its commitment to protecting consumers in a proactive net neutrality policy.

Andy Grove: creative destruction and market exit

Andy Grove is the legendary ex-head of Intel (though it had a few anti-trust brushes in his time there, he made it the powerhouse that it is) - and The Economist reports on his challenge for other industries to innovate as much as his. Fat chance of that in telecoms, given the prospects without net neutrality...

Book blurb

Here's the new speil for the book - which I think sums it up nicely:

This book about net neutrality is intended to be read by the non-technical as well as the technical reader, by non-economists and by non-lawyers also. It does not accept the neo-classical price-oriented competition-based analysis prevalent in telecoms policy, discovering net neutrality to be a problem of consumer and media policy. Net neutrality is about the rules of the road for Internet users, and about the relationship between the owners of those roads and the users. It is not a debate with any easy non-controversial answers. Any solution needs to be holistic, considering ISPs’ roles in the round, including their legal liabilities for content filtering. Co-regulation is a prevalent but awkward compromise between state and private regulation, with constitutionally uncertain protection for end-users and a worryingly large latitude for private censorship, which has been increasing throughout the last decade even as the law declares ISPs to be ‘Three Wise Monkeys’. ISPs may have a free lunch: the appearance of a solution without even a partial remedy for end-users. Marsden’s argument is a ‘Middle Way’ that strikes a balance between intervention and innovation. Net neutrality is an issue with potentially profound consequences, and cannot be entirely left to market actors, however neutral or benign their motives.