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Sunday, November 30, 2014

We need to be pragmatic about the principle of net neutrality

We need to be pragmatic about the principle of net neutrality | Technology | The Guardian: "If the FCC is looking for a principle, it is that technological changes should be made for engineering, not commercial, reasons. Will the agency’s chairman, who used to be a telecoms lobbyist, see it that way? Is the Pope a Protestant?" 'via Blog this'

Friday, November 28, 2014

Reminder: UK isolated in EU Council - may lead to 2015 compromise

Telecom Italia, guardians of ugly monopolists ETNO, was always going to spike the Italian Presidency's guns, so this will probably roll on to the next Telecoms Council chaired by Latvia in early 2015 - though not presumably as late as the 9 June formal Telecoms Council - handily on the Google Calendar for the Latvian Presidency.
There will be a UK General Election before that date but as all major UK parties are neoliberals (except in this area possibly the LibDems) don't expect much change. Note the Latvians have a lot of fibre connections and a 51% government-owned incumbent.
Ed Vaizey in any case set out the UK position very clearly in a 'Dear Bill' letter to the European Scrutiny Committee in May of this year:
I begin with noting that the outcome of the EP First Reading deal was not as expected i.e. in line with the recommendations put forward by the ITRE Report. This was, in the main, due to the ALDE (liberal) Group within the EP withdrawing its support for the content of the ITRE Report covering this issue after voting for its adoption, and then aligning itself with the positions previously adopted by the Socialists & Democrats and Green Groups by jointly putting forward a series of amendments. It was these amendments that were voted passed during the Plenary vote rather than those in the ITRE Report.
"As noted above, the result is that the EP First Reading now contains a specific definition of “net neutrality”, as well as a more restrictive approach to “specialised services” and “traffic management”. This is in direct opposition to HMG’s current negotiating stance and underlines the contentious nature of this issue as previously noted in the most recent Commons Committee Report.
I can confirm that I remain convinced that self-regulation and transparency of traffic management measures will be more effective in delivering an open internet than regulation and that any Regulation risks being too prescriptive, inflexible and may have unintended consequences, including higher consumer bills. Further, First Reading text includes amendments that may have implications for our work on child internet safety. I also remain of the view that it is difficult to accurately define many of the more technical terms used in this area.
"Thus, whilst I do not believe regulation to be the answer, we are committed to working with the Commission and other Member States to ensure that the text produced in Council addresses as many of these issues as possible in order to manage the risks I identify above and taking into account that the introduction of regulation in this area enjoys broad support from the EP and Council. That said, the issue has yet to be fully discussed at Working Group level and so the situation may change but taking into account early indications of Member States’ views in this area, we cannot rely on a change on the position from one where UK’s remains relatively isolated in its opposition. It is worth noting that the issue of net neutrality is one that is covered by the UK and German initiative.
"Further, HMG has also engaged with industry, through the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG), to accurately understand the impact of regulation in this area, for both content producers and communications providers alike. We will continue to work closely with industry and Ofcom to ensure that our input into negotiations is as influential as possible. Should the European institutions decide that Regulation is the only way forward and UK is unable to gain wider support for its self-regulatory stance, we should prepare to ensure that any adopted text is as workable as possible given the current state of the UK market and the existing self-regulatory approach."
Hence the isolation - but for Germany, Spain and Italy with their giant state-owned telecoms former monopolies - was expected....

Thursday, November 27, 2014

EU Parliament calls on Commission to consider Google break-up

EU Parliament calls on Commission to consider Google break-up — Tech News and Analysis:

"Google is currently embroiled in a long-running antitrust case with the European Commission over the way it uses its search dominance – it has more than 90 percent of the European market — to push its own services (among other things). The Commission is also looking into complaints about Google’s bundling of its services with Android.

 The resolution was passed on Thursday by 384 votes to 174, with 56 abstentions, urging the Commission to consider “unbundling” Google’s search business from its other interests. The Commission does have the power to force a company’s break-up (the European Parliament cannot itself initiate any such plan) but has never before done so. Nor has the European Parliament ever urged such a move in this way." 'via Blog this'

Looks like the EU net neutrality debate will run into 2015

Looks like the EU net neutrality debate will run into 2015 — Tech News and Analysis: "It looked like the Council was about to water the rules down, but then the European Commission and the Parliament both pleaded with it not to, and now the decision has reportedly been delayed. The Italian presidency of the Council said Thursday that none of the compromise drafts had achieved consensus and a Council official quoted by IDG said the debate will now go through to 2015. "

Telecom Italia and ETNO foiled? 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

AT&T tells FCC its threat to halt fiber rollout is only for new projects - political regulation...

AT&T tells FCC its threat to halt fiber rollout is only for new projects: "AT&T isn't backing down from its threat to halt its fiber rollout, which was a not-so-subtle jab at President Obama's pro-net neutrality / Title II comments earlier this month. Following an FCC inquiry about that announcement, AT&T said in a letter today that it's still going to move forward with existing fiber commitments -- it's just not going to make any new plans. AT&T's in a bit of a tricky spot: It already agreed to bring fiber to 2 million homes as part of its massive $48.5 billion Direct TV acquisition (which is still under regulatory review). But, well, new regulation bad! "AT&T simply cannot evaluate additional investment beyond its existing commitments until the regulatory treatment of broadband service is clarified." 'via Blog this'

Does Europe have the power to break up Google?

Does Europe have the power to break up Google? | Technology | The Guardian: "EC vice-president Andrus Ansip also downplayed unbundling talk: “I’m not ready to say that they will have to be broken up, talking about vertically integrated structures.”

“We have to investigate very carefully where those problems are … and then find possible solutions”, Ansip said, adding that decisions should only be taken after a full public debate. “We have some doubts about misuse of gatekeeper positions and also leading positions in the markets.”" 'via Blog this'

MEPs urge the Council to uphold net neutrality and roaming provisions

MEPs urge the Council to uphold net neutrality and roaming provisions: "On Thursday, the Council of Ministers will discuss the proposal for European telecoms legislation. Besides net neutrality the European Parliament also included stricter measures to abolish the high costs for mobile roaming in Europe. But it now seems that the Council not only postpones but also dilutes these guarantees.

Schaake says: “The next days will be crucial to show Member States that net neutrality and the elimination of roaming charges must be included into legislation. As our letter shows, the European Parliament will not accept a weaker outcome in the final vote.”" 'via Blog this'

Friday, November 21, 2014

Alles Klar, Herr Kommissar? EU Oettinger’s Live Chat is Short, Deutsch - and anti-neutrality?

Alles Klar, Herr Kommissar? EU Oettinger’s Live Chat is Short, Deutsch - Real Time Brussels - WSJ: "He also hinted that telecoms companies will get their wish when it comes to net neutrality and be able to charge more for certain traffic.

“Every user needs to rely on a stable internet connection. This is something that we are trying to achieve via the concept of net neutrality. At the same time, certain clearly-defined services could be made available at a higher performance level for an additional charge. This must not be discriminatory in any way and it must not lead to a degradation of general Internet standards.”" 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fake net neutrality 'lite' offered by European Council - rolling clock back to 2009

EU to water down net neutrality rules | EurActiv: "EU lawmakers voted in April for strict net neutrality rules that barred telecoms operators like Orange and Telefonica from prioritising some internet traffic over others.

But the latest draft of the [Council] reform proposal shows that member states are leaning towards a looser approach which only bars internet service providers from applying traffic management measures which "block, slow down, alter, degrade or discriminate against specific content."

It does not define net neutrality or so-called "specialised services," which would have specified the types of content that operators could prioritise over others."

Next stop - Telecoms Council in 2 weeks. Parliament in January? 'via Blog this'

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

BCG (2013) European Consumers Value Media at About €2,100 per Year, majority online

BCG - Press Release - European Consumers Value Media at About €2,100 per Year, of which €1,077 Comes from Online Media: Nice stats even if the report is now 18 months old:

"Across the nine European countries covered by the new BCG report, Follow the Surplus: European Consumers Embrace Online Media, the online net value, or “consumer surplus,” ranged from €792 to €1,557. European consumers derive the biggest online surplus (about 30 percent of online total) from user-generated content and social networks, but traditional media categories are catching up fast." 'via Blog this'

The Last Time The FCC Classified A Service As Title II Was 2007. Here’s How It Worked

Wetmachine » Tales of the Sausage Factory » The Last Time The FCC Classified A Service As Title II Was 2007. Here’s How It Worked.: "The FCC continued to find that wireless services were competitive in that there were 4 national competitors who all said we didn’t need a voice roaming rule and that Title II would interfere with innovation, the free market, etc. The FCC adopted a Title II classification anyway because classification doesn’t have anything to do with the state of competition. It has to do with whether the FCC decides that the service meets the definition of “telecommunications service” in 47 U.S.C. 153, and — for wireless — that the service is a “commercial mobile radio service” (CMRS), or the functional equivalent of CMRS, pursuant to 47 U.S.C. 332(d)." 'via Blog this'

Mister Oettinger and the Natural Monopoly

Mister Oettinger and the Natural Monopoly | Fiberevolution: "This last concept is called structural separation. It was never discussed by the previous commission because, well, it’s a “taboo”. One of those taboos that millions of Euros of lobbying money has kept silent at the bottom of a deep, dark, hole.

Yet I and a number of colleagues believe that it could actually help solve the issue of underinvestment in broadband infrastructure at very little (if any) cost to the European taxpayer. And it wouldn’t just solve it for rural areas, it would solve it for Europe." 'via Blog this'

Net neutrality and charging models - Norway will not allow zero-rating

Net neutrality and charging models - npt: Pioneer sticks to its principles!

"The Norwegian guidelines on net neutrality state quite clearly that "Internet users are entitled to an Internet connection that is free of discrimination with regard to type of application, service or content or based on sender or receiver address." This means that in the Norwegian market zero-rating would constitute a violation of the guidelines. At first glance it may appear that all traffic is handled equally in this charging model, but the fact is that once you have used your quota, the traffic that is exempted will be allowed to continue, while all other traffic will be throttled or blocked. This is clearly a case of discrimination between different types of traffic. 

There are of course arguments in favour of zero-rating that make the method seem quite fair. As consumers, we may find it advantageous that we do not have to pay (extra) for a particular type of traffic. Nevertheless, zero-rating lead to selected traffic from the Internet service provider itself or affiliated providers being favoured above other traffic. And this is exactly the kind of situation net neutrality aims to avoid – allowing the Internet service provider to decide how we use the Internet. Instead, the Internet should remain an open, neutral platform for all types of communication." 'via Blog this'

Monday, November 17, 2014

BSG Chairman’s Comment on Net Neutrality/Open Internet

BSG Chairman’s Comment on Net Neutrality/Open Internet news articles | BSG - Broadband Stakeholder Group: "This Code of Practice plus competition obviates the need for statutory regulation which is being backed by some other European countries despite the UK approach being taken up around the world – most recently by Switzerland.

Incidentally, the digital minister Ed Vaizey and I agreed that we should not use the American term “net neutrality”.  In the UK we call it the Open Internet." Far LESS accurate?

BTW Broadband Stakeholder Group is nothing of the kind - it is big corporates and therefore neo-corporate policies. No prosumer reps at all. Funded by government! 'via Blog this'

Sunday, November 16, 2014

AT&T Bluffs, Halts Dwindling Fiber Investment on Neutrality News

AT&T Bluffs, Halts Dwindling Fiber Investment on Neutrality News | DSLReports, ISP Information: "The problem? AT&T's fiber investments weren't particularly impressive to begin with. As we've noted for some time, AT&T has used network investment as carrot on a stick with regulators for most of the last decade, promising to withhold or accelerate network infrastructure investment only if government does their bidding. They've been doing it again lately to get their DirecTV acquisition approved.

 Except in reality, despite a decade of unprecedented deregulation for the telco, AT&T's investment in their fixed-line network has dropped considerably year over year as the company focuses on more profitable wireless services. When there is a modest expansion in their "next-gen" U-Verse service, the company generally massages the numbers to make those expansions seem larger than they actually appear." 'via Blog this'

Friday, November 14, 2014

Did Kim Kardashian Break the Internet? How She Compared With the Comet Landing

Did Kim Kardashian Break the Internet? How She Compared With the Comet Landing on Twitter - Speakeasy - WSJ: "Yesterday, scientists made history by landing a spacecraft on a comet for the first time. Back on Earth, Kim Kardashian and Paper Magazine attempted to make history of their own and “break the Internet” with photos of Kim K. posing naked on the cover.

 So how did interest levels in Kim Kardashian compare with the scientific milestone on Twitter? Neither actually broke the Internet – or at least Twitter – but turns out the comet landing was more popular.

 The main hashtags used were #CometLanding and #BreakTheInternet, but to be more comprehensive, we included tweets containing the words “comet” and “Kardashian.” Here’s how they stacked up for the previous 24 hours, as of 11 a.m. ET today (the Philae probe landed just after 11am ET Tuesday)." 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

TeleFrieden: Ted Cruz’s Bumper Sticker Reference to Network Neutrality as Obamacare for the Internet

TeleFrieden: Ted Cruz’s Bumper Sticker Reference to Network Neutrality as Obamacare for the Internet: "Robust and sustainable broadband competition does not exist in the United States for first and last mile access despite the blessing of having two wireline options (DSL and cable modem).  Data caps, latency, questions about congestion, equipment costs etc. preclude treating wireless as a functional equivalent to wireline at least for the time being.


On the other hand, I do not support converting Internet Service Providers into utilities, or thinking that Title II reclassification will solve all ills.


I do not think the Internet should be completely neutral either.  If I want to view "must see" television, e.g., a Penn State football game, or a Netflix movie, I want my ISP and every other carrier involved in carrying "mission critical" bits to handle them with priority, "Most Favored Nation” treatment.  


On the other hand (I am an academic!), I don't want Comcast deliberately messing with a competitor’s traffic to extort additional payment.  Netflix should have the option for securing "better than best efforts" routing, but I don't want Comcast to have the ability to penalize small ventures that do not have the traffic volume to cause congestion, or have the funds to pay a surcharge that Comcast does not deserve." 'via Blog this'

Monday, November 10, 2014

What Obama wants....

Net Neutrality: President Obama's Plan for a Free and Open Internet | The White House: "So the time has come for the FCC to recognize that broadband service is of the same importance and must carry the same obligations as so many of the other vital services do.

To do that, I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act — while at the same time forbearing from rate regulation and other provisions less relevant to broadband services. This is a basic acknowledgment of the services ISPs provide to American homes and businesses, and the straightforward obligations necessary to ensure the network works for everyone — not just one or two companies." 'via Blog this'

"No, we can't"? Obama pleads with his own FCC to implement net neutrality - 6 years late

Net Neutrality: President Obama's Plan for a Free and Open Internet | The White House: "When I was a candidate for this office, I made clear my commitment to a free and open Internet, and my commitment remains as strong as ever.

Four years ago, the FCC tried to implement rules that would protect net neutrality with little to no impact on the telecommunications companies that make important investments in our economy. After the rules were challenged, the court reviewing the rules agreed with the FCC that net neutrality was essential for preserving an environment that encourages new investment in the network, new online services and content, and everything else that makes up the Internet as we now know it.

Unfortunately, the court ultimately struck down the rules — not because it disagreed with the need to protect net neutrality, but because it believed the FCC had taken the wrong legal approach.

 The FCC is an independent agency, and ultimately this decision is theirs alone." 'via Blog this'

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Let ISPs lock their customers into longer contracts, says Oettinger

Let ISPs lock their customers into longer contracts, new EU digital economy chief suggests — Tech News and Analysis: "Getting rid of these protections arguably removes the incentive for ISPs to invest in network upgrades, because locked-in customers can’t leave when their service gets worse. That makes Oettinger’s latest idea the most worrying EU tech policy proposal I’ve heard in, ooh, days – the last eyebrow-raiser being Oettinger’s apparent desire to extend Germany’s useless “Google tax” law across the union." 'via Blog this'

Saturday, November 08, 2014

TeleFrieden: Terminating ISP Monopolies and the Similar Harm to Edge Providers and End Users

TeleFrieden: Terminating ISP Monopolies and the Similar Harm to Edge Providers and End Users: "I do not understand the possible FCC emphasis on upstream edge providers.  Perhaps the drafters seek to structure an order that resonates with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals examination of potential discrimination to edge providers.  But the court also endorsed the FCC’s view that retail ISPs providing the last mile delivery can operate as terminating monopolies.  Applying an emphasis on this market power in the last mile delivery, both edge providers and end users suffer when retail ISPs engage in some types of discrimination." 'via Blog this'

Does the FCC really not get it about the Internet?

Does the FCC really not get it about the Internet? - The Washington Post: "But when you use the Internet, do you have a conversation with your access network?  It makes sense to frame my interactions with,, or as conversations, but no one besides the access networks themselves believes the access networks are part of these conversations. The access networks simply provide what the telecommunications act defines as a telecommunications service, which is one good reason why the FCC should reclassify broadband Internet access service as a telecommunications service." 'via Blog this'

Internet services: use public money to help everyone benefit

Internet services: use public money to help everyone benefit: "Under the PAWS project we showed that it was perfectly feasible to share existing fixed broadband infrastructure such as home routers using ADSL or cable for internet access, via Wi-Fi. Re-using the existing, expensive hardware and infrastructure – the telephone network, exchanges, cables, and routers – is one way to reduce the cost of adding users to the network.

 By providing priority access for the primary users over subsequently added, secondary users the costs of are spread without unduly affecting any users, while potentially making more efficient use of the networks when primary users are idle (for example, when at work and not using their home internet connections)." 'via Blog this'

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The basic truth about internet access that cable & phone companies don't want you to know

The basic truth about internet access that cable & phone companies don't want you to know - Vox: "At the moment, the US federal government could issue 5-year bonds at a 1.58 percent interest rate and make grants to cities interested in following Chattanooga and Lafayette down that path.

But it doesn't happen, because while broadband incumbents don't want to spend the money it would take to build state-of-the-art fiber networks, they are happy to spend money on lobbying.

And they are very effective at it.

The 2009 stimulus bill, for example, provided a grant to the District of Columbia to build a publicly owned fiber-optic network, but the city's not allowed to use it to deliver fiber connections to its residents. In San Antonio, the city-owned electrical utility already built a fiber network but lobbyists got the state legislature to pass a law making it illegal for households to use the fiber.

 So even though we have the technical ability to deliver cheap, super-fast internet and we have the financial ability to finance the construction, we don't actually have the network." 'via Blog this'

Sunday, November 02, 2014

'Computer says no' Bill continues: 29 Oct in Lords

Lords Hansard text for 29 Oct 2014 (pt 0001): "Nobody wants to see that situation but I question whether there is a need to change the law to tackle such behaviour as we have good and robust protections in place for consumers.

I also understand that companies which block services such as Skype no longer offer packages that do so, except on legacy tariffs, so these terms and conditions should not apply. I also understand that the regulator

 29 Oct 2014 : Column GC460

 Ofcom has been in dialogue with the providers, and that there is a commitment to review the wording in their terms and conditions to ensure that these are not misinterpreted in this way.

The noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, asked about the assessment of the two-tier internet. The Government’s intention is to ensure an open, secure and safe internet. Where some services are blocked, we want to see transparency. However, our experience is that competition is working. The proposals in the US are informed by the US market. The UK’s market is very different, so we watch with interest to see what the FCC will do.

 More broadly, the Government and industry through the Broadband Stakeholder Group have done a great deal of work together to ensure that there is greater transparency. For example, two industry codes of practice have now been developed. This, coupled with the UK’s highly competitive telecoms market, has been very successful in ensuring that there is no consumer detriment caused by traffic management problems." 'via Blog this'

The 'Computer says no' Bill - consumer rights on net neutrality in UK

House of Commons Hansard Debates for 16 Jun 2014 (pt 0003): "At every stage of this Bill, colleagues throughout the House have raised issues that reflect those concerns about markets, including ticket touting, rip-off estate agent fees, copycat websites, logbook loans, product recall and even net neutrality. Every example involved scams and sharp practices, yet this Bill will not make progress in protecting the interests of consumers.

As we have consistently been told by the Minister, that is outside the scope of the Bill and a matter for the mysterious implementation group, whose inner workings are still a secret to many of us.

 At every single turn, the Minister has claimed that someone or something else can act. She has said that so often that we think it would be worth renaming the Bill the “computer says no” Bill. " 'via Blog this'