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Tuesday, August 06, 2013

UK net neutrality? Perish the thought...

The UK Communications 'consultation paper' which is the centrepiece of the Coalition's communications policy strategy limped into view last week. It's got some porno-nasty blocking, decent ideas on switching bundled services and the very necessary hard cash elements of spectrum reform (which is why it's needed in the first place).
Here are the parts confirming that they have no interest in solving consumer issues with net neutrality except via the old Ofcom saw that transparency and switching can answer the problem:
"Internet traffic management: Cisco predicts that internet traffic will reach 1.4zettabytes (a zettabyte is equal to a trillion gigabytes) a year in 2017 [Ed: gee whizz, these numbers are confusing, is there a data explosion? Errr, no].
As the amount of data exchanged increases we want to ensure that consumers are aware at the point of sale of the internet traffic management policies that their internet service provider or mobile network operator has in place. For example, some mobile network operators block the use of apps like ‘Skype’, although this may be reflected in cheaper contracts [Ed: really? No].
We think it should be for consumers to decide what best meets their needs, so, in the first instance, we have asked Ofcom to work with internet service providers to encourage them to make their traffic management policies more transparent on a voluntary basis [Ed: abuse of the term 'self-regulation'] – the challenge for industry will be to do this in a way that is clear and understandable to consumers. [Ed: this was meant to happen 4 years ago, for gawd's sake...]
Where there is evidence of consumers not being made sufficiently aware, Ofcom will act to require operators to make their traffic management policies more transparent. We believe in the principle of an open internet [Ed: no, you don't, as Tim Berners Lee established clearly] and will keep this area under review." (pp13-14)
It's not very edifying - and there's a longer regurgitated Ofcom policy line at  p41 which astonishingly suggests that traffic management could prioritise Skype services - when presumably every incentive exists to do the opposite, discriminate to prioritise voice over IP that is NOT a competitor to the ISP? Someone worked too late on that line..."firms may prioritise time-sensitive services like video streaming or voice calls over the internet – such as the type of services offered by Skype – over other content which is not as sensitive to time delay" - shurely shome mishtake?

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