Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Hopefully he can report back on what else happens in DC!?
The European Commission is finalising its consultation period - 30 September is your deadline. Again, nothing online yet - they normally publish responses well after the final date, its not like the FCC process.
Meanwhile, the club of national regulators, BEREC, is meeting in Amsterdam on Friday week (as OPTA will be chairing BEREC next year, this is part of the handover). Their news page was updated on 4 June, but they are recruiting...they'll discuss their response to the Commission on net neutrality.
And the FCC's comment period on their latest Notice is 1 October, with replies thereafter. No doubt it will be a topic of conversation at TPRC next week - can't go, I'm getting married...
Monday, September 13, 2010
On the subject of Cisco, their infamous hockey stick net traffic graph was reproduced in an otherwise excellent Economist piece which is great undergrad primer material on net neutrality. Unsurprisingly The Economist agrees with the Ofcom economists' answer that more local loop competition is the answer, quoting the Berkman study dissed by the network duopoly's lawyers last autumn - to which we might ask why Canvas and CDNs then become so important in apparently 'competitive' UK ISPs? But the clue is in the journal's title. It does quote at length Kevin Werbach and even the excellent Debora Spar - who would tell you to follow the money...
Meanwhile in Spain, Telefonica is planning to offer best-efforts Internet with higher QoS offered as a premium product. This is the harbinger of more QoS-led efforts where transparency will be paramount.
Thursday, September 09, 2010
"Assessment of published documents pertaining to network operators' claimed operating procedures is relatively straightforward. Actually ensuring operators are following the letter and the spirit of their own publicly available procedures is more difficult. Measurement of actual operations and net user harm is complex and the temptation would be for an independent auditor (Ofcom?) to measure metrics which are easy to measure rather than those that provide truly informative indicators of sector practice." Bravo!
Friday, September 03, 2010
The reasons why telecoms regulators such as Ofcom simply fail to appreciate the depth and scale of problems inherent in traffic management are many and I have expounded on them at great length elsewhere, but the key issue is regulatory capture. ISPs are as unlikely as turkeys to vote for Christmas, and so long as they all agree that freetards are a problem, they will have a more or less settled line in favour of throttling bandwidth, underprovisioning backhaul, lying about broadband speeds, and describing as 'unlimited' packages which are anything but, and 'reasonable use' as that which makes them a net profit. When the content players are more concerned to disconnect suspected filesharers than try to achieve an Internet-based business model, they're all pushing on an open door with regulators and politicians.
This is why it is so remarkable that a measure which is only favoured by consumers, the poor bloody infantry, the voters, has got as far as transparency (which all economists are supposed to favour). Now lets see whether the implementation of the Directives can actually provide a decent deal for those consumers, against the combined weight of the media and telecoms industries.
Thursday, September 02, 2010
But lets not fool ourselves, investing in specialized (as opposed to managed) services diverts capital from the basic pipe and vice versa, unless you're the genius who knows exactly how to use managed as well as specialized services to continue offering an exact 'Goldilocks' service to regular Internet users - not too hot, not too cold. In this version of the fairytale, too hot is too expensive to deploy efficiently or non-profitable, and too cold is too throttled. Just right would offer the full suite of managed, specialized and plain vanilla services, ensuring maximum consumer transparency and choice, with surplus profits reinvested in maximising the cheapest and best alternative for the majority of traffic, the Internet pipe. That's obviously easier where your main or sole business is as an ISP and your main accounting is wholesale and transparent. Its hardest if you're a cable provider or even more massive communications conglomerate with horizontal-vertical linkages into content and customer services that makes the pipe and ISP consumers the least of your worries.
As with all out-of-copyright fairytales, it comes from Europe and suffers greatly in translation to American corporate capitalism. It may even come true, but probably not in Kansas.
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
Cisco of course likes Quality of Service and differentiated services as that enables it to sell fancier routers. Its recent work on the future Internet actually designs a scenario of a type of 'net neutrality leads to Paradise Lost' called 'Bursting at the Seams' (this scenario is alongside protectionism, economic stagnation and security threats).
This is the 'Silly Season' of wild rumours, so most likely the Skype share flotation (can it be worth $5b to anyone?) will go ahead...
We argue that transparency of broadband works. Increasing transparency about the actual quality of broadband internet is good for consumers and increases quality and efficiency on broadband markets.
We conducted an experimental study in a laboratory, comparing various policy scenarios in which Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are obliged to disclose the actual quality of their service. Nowadays, consumers often only have information about the price and maximum bandwidth of broadband internet, which says little about the actual quality they experience. Results of this research indicate that increased transparency about actual quality leads to stronger competition between ISPs, and increases the quality of broadband.The Ministry of Economic Affairs supported this TILEC research project as part of its effort to implement the new European directives on electronic communications into Dutch telecommunications law. Our study is part of TILEC’s larger research agenda on innovation, competition policy and regulation, and we will use the data and results of this study for a number of academic publications.