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Friday, June 25, 2010

Ofcom blows the whistle on itself on self-regulation

You may recall I discussed in 2008 just how 'voluntary' the ISP Code of Conduct on broadband really was? Well, Ofcom appears to have inadvertently told the truth in its net neutrality discussion:
"Ofcom has already introduced information requirements through our Code of Practice on Broadband Speeds...Within Ofcom’s Code of Practice on broadband speeds, there is also a requirement to provide information on policies on fair usage, traffic management and traffic shaping...We are planning to publish the new code after the summer." [pp37-38, Chapter 5]
So it is Ofcom's Code, not the ISPs', which was always obvious to insiders, but its good to have it confirmed. the ISPs intended to do precisely nothing without the regulators' cattle prod. Elsewhere, Ofcom suggests several alternatives for actually getting ISPs to spill the beans on QoS:

"5.48 We recognise that the use of traffic management techniques is, by its nature, difficult for consumers to detect and understand. It is therefore, critical that consumers are fully informed of any traffic prioritisation, degradation or blocking policies being applied by their network operator or ISP and that they are able to factor these in when making purchasing or switching decisions. This is important not just from the point of view of consumers’ rights, but also relevant to the question of whether stricter rules may be required on discrimination."
For what its worth, I suggest they should allow consumers to measure their speed of access (I can do this currently with my 3 mobile connection), and think they MUST offer their own website detailing traffic management based on quarterly ISP metrics.

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