Business ofcom Regs

Digital Economy Bill – the month in review and what next #debill #ge2010

The last month has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster ride for broadband users, ISPs and anyone interested in basic liberties in the UK.

On Friday 19th March The Digital Economy Bill passed from the House of Lords to the Commons. The three readings in the Lords took most of the three months since Christmas. The Commons only spent a few days “deliberating” the Bill. The General Election and “wash-up” process meant that the Bill was effectively nodded through by the Labour and Conservatives.

This is the only time I have ever watched parliament online. I don’t know how many people were viewing the

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Ofcom Terms of Reference for Tackling Online Copyright Infringement in Digital Economy Act #debill

Check this Ofcom announcement. It basically covers their terms of reference for the Copyright Infringement piece of the Digital Economy Act (was Bill – feels kinda final).

There is going to be a lot written on this between now and the end of the year.  There are no surprises at this stage though the statement does confirm that the process has to take no more than 8 months including 3 months for the Code of Practice to be approved by the European Commission.

The draft CoP also has to be in place no later than May.  There is an option for stakeholders to jointly propose a draft within this timeframe but I can’t see it happening.  I may be wrong.

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Digital Economy Bill: Business Already Starting to Worry about the Effects #debill #digitalbritain

Customers want to know effects of Digital Economy Bill. Don’t we all?

I’m off to a meeting with a customer the week after next.  Nothing unusual in that of course.  In fact I like meeting customers. It gives me a chance to find out how we are doing.

This particular customer however provides in room internet services to hotels. They want to know how the Digital Economy Bill will affect them. The reality is that we won’t know until Ofcom has completed its work on the Code of Practice. It is right that they start looking at the subject now though because it does have the potential to harm them in a big way.

Customers downloading copyright material from the internet will be long gone by the time Rights Holders catch up with the ISP. In fact who is the Service Provider in this case?  Timico, who owns the infrastructure, or Timico’s customer who has the relationship with the hotel? Or is it the hotel, which has the relationship with the paying guest?  Hmm!

Business ofcom voip

Freshtel leaves Tesco in lurch

Tesco has been using Freshtel as the underlying provider of its VoIP service. Unfortunately the Australian VoIP company announced in March that it was closing its UK operations – something to do with an operating loss of $1.25m.

Tesco service is now apparently scheduled to be shut down on the 27th April. Nobody knows how many customers are affected but the Tesco was aggressively marketing the service for some considerable time so it could be quite a few.

The biggest problem is that Freshtel, being an Australian company and moreover  not being an ITSPA (Internet Telephony Service Providers Association) member, did not have any porting arrangements with anyone in the UK. Ofcom are looking into it but time is short.

I understand that Tesco is talking to both Virgin Media and Cable and Wireless to try and find a solution.  If one of them already hosts the Freshtel number range that could be an easy way out.

The situation is however further complicated by the fact that Tesco not only used low cost equipment at the customer premises but it is also locked to the Tesco service so that changing the VoIP service information for a new service provider is not easy or straightforward.

The whole subject of number portability is still an issue in the UK. Large service providers (BT, C&W et al) have no incentive to make it easy.  They are the likely losers in the portability game.

Although on the face of it these service providers do say that they are willing to engage with other ITSPs in the interest of the customer the reality is that as large organisations they are a) staffed by teams of lawyers who have their jobs/reputations/companies to protect and b) often reluctant to deal with very small organisations who could go bust at any time and leave them with liabilites. These are actually quite understandable problems for large companies.

Dealing with a member of ITSPA notionally does mean that porting to other companies should be relatively easy but it is still early days and the system is not yet necessarily smooth. ITSPA has been campaigning for a standard porting contract to be made available for everyone in the industry to use.  This almost certainly won’t interest the big boys but it could at least make setting up porting arrangents generally easier for everyone else. I’ll report back as I see progress being made here.

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Royal Assent for Digital Economy Bill – we now need to move onto the Code of Practice for damage limitation #debill

The Queen nodded the Digital Economy Bill through last night, in keeping with her custom and practice. It seems that MPs have been getting above their station in taking a similar approach to get it passed into Law (my words not Her Majesty’s). 

It would appear that Stephen Timms has offered via twitter to arrange a session between ISPs and the Rights Holders:

“#DEBill Good dialogue, music/film people & Internet people, opposing views,could help find common ground. Much needed. Anyone interested?”

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Stop UK Government From Breaking the Internet on April 6th #DEBill #digitalbritain

As a general principle and in support of the rule of law, nobody involved in the campaign process against the implementation of the Digital Economy Bill (DEB) supports the theft of someone else’s property as is the case when downloading a pirate copy of a music track. However, before we examine the history of the legislation, let’s take a reality check about where we are.

The cat is well and truly out of the bag. The downloading of copyrighted material is now so widespread and with faster and faster broadband and bigger and bigger hard drives it is never going to stop. Infringers will just move on to alternative means – encrypted P2P for example. On this basis all the hard work on the DEB is likely to be a complete waste of time. It is also very difficult to prove who has used a specific broadband connection to indulge in this copyright infringement; what’s more the burden of proof in this bill lies with the accused to prove themselves innocent. This is totally wrong and goes against all the principles of modern UK society.

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Report from “Bring Democracy to the Digital Economy Bill” reception at Westminster #debill #ldsavenet #digitalbritain

Just got back from the “Bring Democracy to the Digital Economy Bill” reception kindly sponsored by “Consumer Focus”. There was a great speaker line up. My shorthand is non existent but this is pretty much what was said. If not verbatim then it provides the gist and I’m happy to modify and if I have any of it wrong – but I don’t think I have.

Tom Watson MP
Opening remarks. Not against change per se – just against doing it without adequate scrutiny. DEB is a bad law.

John Grogan MP
The probability is that the PM will go to the Queen to seek dissolution of Parliament on the morning of 6th April. This is likely to be before the 2nd reading of the DEB has started in Commons!. There is no precedent for this!

Noted that at a similar event sponsored by BPI 5 or 6 lobbysists claimed ownership to clause 120A. There was clearly a lot of effort being put in. It is reasonable to expect that things are not considered in haste.

Stephen Timms and Jeremy Hunt have apparently agreed to a clause 18 amendment today but word is the Lib Dems are not going to sign up to it.

The process is going to be concertina’d to 1 hour in the Commons and 1 hour in the Lords.

Not many MPs will be around during the wash-up. Most will be out on the campaign trail. It is important to garner as much support as possible against this bill at this last minute. It won’t be end of world if this bill is delayed so that we can have a proper debate.

Jim Killock, Executive Director, Open Rights Group
20k people have written to their MP. 2 k people have emailed Harriet Harman. £12 – £14 k raised in one morning to pay for an advert protesting overt the lack of scrutiny in this bill. MPs should be asking themselves whether this bill is legitimate

Simon Milner, Director of Industrial Policy, BT
BT wants to see reduction in piracy – after all BT sells music online. However the company wants to see that the law is balanced and proportionate. In this case the Government views have been too influenced by the music industry. For example people will be cut off because they haven’t taken suitable steps to stop music piracy. This isn’t right and could be unenforceable in law. Consumers could be left with an unholy mess.

Andrew Heaney, Executive Director of Policy and Regulation, TalkTalk
Used the example of his mother. If one of mum’s neighbours hacked into her broadband connection she could be cut off without being able to resort to legal aid. She would have to prove she has taken reasonable steps to stop it. This would cost her money perhaps a few hundred pounds? This is disgraceful / shameful.

Andrew had spoke with Stephen Timms about this. His reply was “But we have to do something don’t we?”.

Scott Taunton, Managing Director, UTV Media GB
Future of local radio is at stake here. There is not enough time to scrutinise the bill properly. The Secretary of State will have the ability to turn off AM and FM frequencies & move people to DAB. There are 120 m analogue radios around the country. This debate has come late in the day. Up to 120 local radio stations could be left behind in the switch off. DAB was 1st broadcast in 1988 radio technology has moved on to better things. Ofcom records only 3% of population has dissatisfaction with radio so why are we doing this?

(Note I haven’t given the non ISP bits of the bill any thought but it does seem outrageous that the Secretary of State seems to be awarding himself powers left right and centre)

Lord Whitty, Chair, Consumer Focus
Lord Whitty had lost his voice and his place was taken instead by that would be Adam Scorer, Consumer Focus Director of reputation and impact, or short, campaigns.

“This is a wholly unsatisfactory process. The idea that consumer interest is served by ISPs policing by decree is more than a shame in what is otherwise a good DEB.”

To finish off I was told this evening that Stephen Timms and Jeremy Hunt (cons) have apparently agreed to a clause 18 amendment today and that the Lib Dems are not going to sign up to it.

At this point I don’t know which way it is going to swing. Watch this space.

PS both MPs speaking were impressive individuals – you should vote for them.

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Fibre rates inequity iniquity

The Digital Dales Colloquium was held at Timico HQ in Newark on Friday and packed out the main lecture theatre. With the focus of how to get rural areas onto the internet much of the meeting was spent debating the lack of level playing field when it comes to bidding for projects that involve European funding.From a third party perspective BT appears to have much of this stitched up because their existing deal on rates paid for their network infrastructure is based on a volume play. This means that BT can assume lower costs for fibre runs where new market entrants putting fibre in the ground perhaps for the first time incur much higher charges. The chart below, pinched from network provider Vtesse Networks MD Aidan Paul’s presentation, shows how the rates applied to fibre vary depending on how many fibres you have in the ground on a given route. Clearly if you are an incumbent operator with a large market presence this method of rating is going to give you a significant competitive advantage over a new player. The figures represent rateable value applied to each kilometre of fibre.

tone rateable value per fibre
Rates payable per kilometre per fibre based on number of fibres in ground

The weird nature if the curve doesn’t inspire confidence. Moreover as a separate discussion point these rateable values are quite high numbers and in my mind represent an impediment to the competitiveness of UK plc in general. What is more surprising is that despite the growth in BT’s fibre business the actual rateable value of the corporation has dropped considerably. Your guess is as good as mine as to why this is though no doubt BT has very competent staff involved in its negotiations with the Valuation Office.

BT Rateable Value
BT rateable value over past 15 years – note significant drop this year – source Valuation Office Agency Central List for 2005 and 2010
growth in BT fibre access revenues - source BT Regulatory Accounts
growth in BT fibre access revenues – source BT Regulatory Accounts
growth in the amount of  BT fibre
Growth in the amount of BT fibre in the ground – an astonishing number – source BT statutory accounts and Form 20F

Vtesse has been involved in a long running litigation to try and redress this situation. Lord Justice Sedley recently pronounced: “It is now evident . . . that Vtesse has a tenable argument that, contrary to the VO’s case and BT’s claims, the 2008 Ofcom report shows that it is possible not only to disaggregate BT’s rateable holdings but to assign a hypothetical rental value to their fibre-optic cables. If that can be done, there is arguably a gross disparity in BT’s favour between the rateable value of its and Vtesse’s cables. . . . By contrast, the injustice of allowing the continuance of what may be a radical inequity in the rating system will go unredressed by the proposed disposal.” The BIS select committee Chairman Peter Luff MP has also spoken out about this: “Government intervention at this stage should concentrate on changing policies to encourage investment in the NGA market. Perhaps the best example of this is the business rating system which currently discriminates in favour of BT and against its competitors. We believe that the Government should consider a reduction, or even a temporary removal, of business rates on fibre optic cable. This would be a more effective use of limited public sector funds than direct financial intervention.” In other words removing business rates on fibre runs would be a good way of promoting investment in connectivity for rural areas. I don’t have a handle on the relative numbers but I would say this was also a much fairer way of funding investment in NGA than the 50 pence phone line tax.

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It’s been quite an amusing afternoon at BT Central in Newgate Street. After the ITSPA council meeting I stayed to moderate the Technical Workshop which covered VONGA and Number Porting.

More on Number Porting anon but VONGA, or Voice over Next Generation Access, was an interesting session. BT is, as we all know, rolling out Fibre To The Cabinet and then Fibre To The Premises (anyone wanting the service please get in touch).

The FTTP product from Openreach is going to have an option to take voice services that will replicate WLR3 – the standard analogue line Plain Old Telephony Service or POTS.

There are I think several drivers for this within BT. Firstly BT either appears to be obligated to, or has decided to only provide fibre services to new Greenfield site builds rather than any copper based connectivity. They still however have an Universal Service Obligation to provide telephony services to anyone that want them.

Enter VONGA stage left. VONGA allows end users to plug an old fashioned telephone handset into an Analogue Telephone Adapter socket on their “broadband” router to make phone calls.

VONGA is also part of BT’s long term preparatory work before they turn off the old fashioned PSTN and move over to 21CN voice – 2020 at the earliest as reported here.

When I first heard of VONGA I kind of got excited. ITSPs around the country were asking all about it. In fact they were worried that BT might be trying to eat their still meagre lunch.

Don’t worry lads (and lasses). There is an alternative called CPCA that allows you to provide your own telephony services from the ATA sockets in the BT kit although it wasn’t totally clear to me whether anyone could do this completely independently of paying something to BT for the privilege. BT seems to think they are the only ones able to provide the PATS level service and point to a battery in the router that will keep the service alive for up to 4 hours in the event of a power cut (all subject to spec confirmation). Ofcom and most ITSPs would disagree here.

Despite what I’m sure are Openreach’s best efforts to corner the WLR3 futures market it will be possible for Communications Providers to sell users the FTTP connection and then sell their own services overlaid onto and through the Ethernet ports in the router – just like they do now. In fact this is effectively the naked DSL currently unavailable in the UK, albeit using turbo DSL.

VONGA does notionally provide Quality of Service for voice running over a separate VLAN tied to each ATA socket. However this QoS will also almost certainly be available to users just taking FTTP.

There are several disappointing facts associated with VONGA. Firstly trial dates stretch well into 2011 and then there is no firm date for production so this isn’t likely to happen before 2012.

Secondly VONGA, initially at least, strives only to replicate what is currently already there – so expect only boring old fashioned G711 voice services. This is a shame really considering that G711 will occupy only 100kbps or so out of the 100Mbps available over the fibre so could provide a higher quality product taking up just a little more bandwidth.

I think BT is boringly missing a trick by just trying to reinvent an old fashioned service but then again I realise that this is part of the long term goal to replicate and then remove the boring old 20CN network.

The third and final disappointing fact, which is more of an amusing one really, is the that VONGA uses SIP as a signaling protocol. SIP enables the internet’s version of old fashioned telephony but takes it on to another level by providing features such as Video. Presence and Instant Messaging.

SIP however doesn’t support all the legacy features of the PSTN – it’s moved on from there. You don’t need ringback for example if you can see when someone is off the phone.

The Alcatel Lucent SIP softswitch being used by BT (one of at least four different VoIP platforms being used across the BT empire) therefore doesn’t support all the features of the Plain Old Fashioned Telephone System.

This means that whilst you might expect a broadband VoIP service to offer more than POTS in this case it actually offers less – POTS Lite if you like. Who’d have thought such a thing was possible!

Sorry about the continued abundance of acronyms!

PS we were sat in the pub after the meeting thinking up titles for this post. Kinda fonda VONGA didn’t sound true, VONGA Ponga was a bit childish so VONGA – POTS Lite got it.

Business ofcom Regs

Naked DSL? Not on your Nellie says Ofcom!

I hear that according to Ofcom naked DSL is officially dead in the UK water and that they are not interested in pursuing it. Naked DSL is the product that would allow VoIP providers to offer voice over broadband without having to pay for the voice element of the underlying analogue phone line.

If a consumer or business is only using his telephone line as a means to carry ADSL and not to make phone calls they don’t need the cost element of the underlying line that enables telephony. This is available in some other countries but not in the UK!

Not a forward step from Ofcom – and this is coming from someone who sells both analogue lines, ADSL and VoIP.

On the other hand one of the bugbears of VoIP pure play operators such as Vonage is that when a customer wants to port his telephony service to them, from BT say, the act of doing so effectively cuts off the original phone line and by default the broadband connection and the VoIP service that would run over it. Anti-competitive I’d say.

The Office of the Telecoms Adjudicator (OTA) is championing a change here and we can hopefully expect that this is something we will see by the end of 2010. The notional solution is that BT will provide a new “ghost” number for the analogue line so that it doesn’t get cut off.

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Digital Economy Bill – printer accused of illegal downloads

The cogs of Government continue to grind. I know many of you yawn at some of these regulatory posts but man cannot live on network diagrams alone. The 5th day of the Digital Economy Bill House of Lords Committee stage was held yesterday.

No non-Government amendments made it through but a number of important concessions were made.

Clause 11 in particular concerns “Obligations to limit internet access”. The brakes are being put on this in that no order to cut off someone’s internet access could be made until 12 months after Ofcom has looked at this issue and come up with a Code of Practice.

It is now also proposed that it becomes a requirement, as opposed to an option, for the Secretary of State to request a report from Ofcom on the “suitability of a technical obligation”, ie whether a consumer gets cut off in a particular instance (I assume).

There will also be full appeals process which could be heard by a tribunal before any technical measure is imposed. It will still lead to a pretty messy situation downstream even if it delays the day of reckoning.

Note this is still not backed up by any sign of copyright licensing reform that will make it easier to download music in a legal manner.

There is a lot more to read about but you can do that yourselves here – if you have a few hours to spare and don’t mind finishing up with a headache. Despite all the glamour and the luxury expense fuelled living  🙂 a lot of what MPs do is deadly boring and is reported in such technical legalese as to make it often undecipherable to the “man on the street”.

It is worth noting something else. ISPs regularly receive “abuse” reports from Rights Holders. These letters informing an ISP of supposed illegal downloading activity from one of their customers’ IP Addresses

At last week’s UKNetwork Operators Forum (UKNOF) meeting a representative of Janet, the UK Education network, said that of the ‘abuse’ reports they received last year, 10% turned out to be for the IP addresses of printers, 15% were address space that wasn’t actually being used and 50% only had a 0 second interval for the time that material was being offered for download.

By this token, and I admit only in this anecdotal case, 75% of the supposed illegal activity would never pass scrutiny. This suggests that it is going to be very difficult for anyone to determine the validity of such an assertion by a Rights Holder, be they a judge, ISP or anyone else. There is no way an ISP would want to get involved with this without someone picking up the costs and being fully indemnified.

Business internet ofcom piracy

Bono sums don't add up.

The BBC reports today that singer Bono is claiming that the revenues lost by the music industry due to illegal downloading mirrors the growth in profits of the Internet industry.

This didn’t sound quite right to me but I doubt that anyone has any real data. It did prompt me to see if I could have a stab at sizing both industries myself from my limited sources of information.

Firstly in last year’s Ofcom communications market report the total number of ADSL tails is quoted as being 17.3 million connections at an average cost of £10.71 a month.  This works out at just over £2.2Bn revenues in 2008.  I realise that there will be other revenues that add to the total ISP take but ADSL will be the biggest portion of the whole. Also I have no doubt that the music industry would quote the total communications market size as the number to compare.

Now look at the available data on the music industry in the UK posted recently in the Times which suggests that turnover in 2008 was, wait for it, just over £2.2Bn.

Whatever the right numbers it clearly suggests that Bono’s claim is just the hype that most people will hopefully see through, or at least MPS about to decide on the Digital Economy Bill.  We are at an important juncture in process of the DEB and it is important that the ISP industry gets its own message across as clearly and successfully as the music industry seems to be doing.  I haven’t been monitoring the relative amounts of press coverage each side has been getting.

ofcom1Finally the chart, taken from last year’s Ofcom market report shows how the media and telecoms industries have been performing relative to the stock market. It suggests to me that the media industry, again assuming the metric is the right one, is not doing so badly, relatively speaking.

I’m quite happy to be corrected with any of the numbers here but we do need to try and get a correct persective on the whole situation.

Business internet ofcom piracy

Bono sums don’t add up.

The BBC reports today that singer Bono is claiming that the revenues lost by the music industry due to illegal downloading mirrors the growth in profits of the Internet industry.

This didn’t sound quite right to me but I doubt that anyone has any real data. It did prompt me to see if I could have a stab at sizing both industries myself from my limited sources of information.

Firstly in last year’s Ofcom communications market report the total number of ADSL tails is quoted as being 17.3 million connections at an average cost of £10.71 a month.  This works out at just over £2.2Bn revenues in 2008.  I realise that there will be other revenues that add to the total ISP take but ADSL will be the biggest portion of the whole. Also I have no doubt that the music industry would quote the total communications market size as the number to compare.

Now look at the available data on the music industry in the UK posted recently in the Times which suggests that turnover in 2008 was, wait for it, just over £2.2Bn.

Whatever the right numbers it clearly suggests that Bono’s claim is just the hype that most people will hopefully see through, or at least MPS about to decide on the Digital Economy Bill.  We are at an important juncture in process of the DEB and it is important that the ISP industry gets its own message across as clearly and successfully as the music industry seems to be doing.  I haven’t been monitoring the relative amounts of press coverage each side has been getting.

ofcom1Finally the chart, taken from last year’s Ofcom market report shows how the media and telecoms industries have been performing relative to the stock market. It suggests to me that the media industry, again assuming the metric is the right one, is not doing so badly, relatively speaking.

I’m quite happy to be corrected with any of the numbers here but we do need to try and get a correct persective on the whole situation.

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UK All Party Comms Group publishes inquiry results

The All Party Parliamentary Communications Group (apComms) is an independent group of MPs and Lords, from all political parties, which seeks to encourage debate on a range of communications issues.

During the summer the group conducted an inquiry into a wide range of internet related issues and made the results public yesterday during the Parliament and Internet Conference.

In my mind this is a significant document which actually proposes to go against Government policy in some areas. I’ve condensed its 43 pages into a few bullet points here.

  1. A recommendation that here should be a green paper on internet privacy. Good.
  2. The Government should not continue with the illegal file sharing idea in Digital Britain but wait for the EU to finish its long awaited  Telecoms Package and fit in with that. Likely to cause a stir but sensible!
  3. Behavioural Advertising – Where are the rights of the citizen? – recommend that on behavioural advertising there should be a far more explicit way for people to understand what they are signing up for. Quite right too.
  4. Internet safety should become a core curriculum topic at ks1 and ks4. Good.
  5. IWF should extend notice and take down to the rest of the world. Gov’t should not legislate to enforce iwf blocking
  6. Keep network neutrality under review
  7. Ofcom regulates to require ISPs to advertise min guaranteed speeds for broadband.   This is currently done under a voluntary code of practice. OK.
  8. ISPs have to take proactive steps to detect and remove illegal content from their servers.  Hmmm.

I don’t think I captured all the points here but certainly the main ones. We will also need to digest what is in the report  and whilst I’m sure not everyone will agree with its content it is certainly a good stimulation for debate. 

The report can be viewed in its entirety here.

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Martha Lane Fox, Queen of the Digitally Excluded

The Government’s Digital Inclusion Champion and my newest Facebook friend, Martha Lane Fox, gave a speech at yesterday’s Parliament and Internet Conference in Westminster.

There is a group of 4 million people, including the elderly and families living on the breadline, who do not have access to the internet and who run the risk of losing out in the digital economy. Moreover the children (20% of families don’t have internet access) face being left behind their education as other children forge ahead with modern life skills.

Aside from her inspirational case studies a few points interesting points arose:

Research suggest that if internet was provided to all families currently without then it would add £10Bn to the economy.

Cost was seen to be the significant barrier to internet access amongst the poor. We were told that these same families would be able to save £300 a year by accessing cheaper products online – if they were able to do so – a tangible incentive.

Earlier in the day Carphone Warehouse strategist Andrew Heaney, in discussing the 50 pence Digital Britain tax on analogue lines, said that CW had estimated that they could lose 100,000 customers as a result.

I put this point to Martha and she agreed that there were conflicting government goals here. On the one hand wanting to reach the digitally excluded whilst on the other hand raising the barriers by increasing prices.

Note I take Andrew Heaney’s comments with a pinch of salt. The former Ofcom executive has very firmly established himself in the anti-regulation camp here – gamekeeper turned poacher!

In walking the corridors of Westminster there is definitely a feeling of the last days of empire. However MLF has a two year remit which seems likely to span different flavours of Government. Her appointment appears non political with support from both sides of the House of Commons and so her role will hopefullybe safe under the Conservatives (should they win the election 🙂 ).

MLF will have to use all her powers of influence and persuasion to make her mark here and we all wish her every success.

To conclude, MP and Communications Group co-chair Derek Wyatt came up with the idea of getting industry to help educate the digitally excluded by providing help with training. This met with the universal approval of the meeting and is an initiative that is well worth everyone’s support.

Business ofcom Regs

Digital Britain Minister Stephen Timms reaffirms that 2Mbps USO remains on the table

In his speech at the Parliament and Internet Conference in Westminster today Digital Britain Minister Stephen Timms reaffirmed that 2Mbps Universal Service Obligation remains the goal of the Government’s legislation.

Having spent the morning in a workshop with Andrew Heaney of Talk Talk and Andy Carter from the Department of Business Innovation and Skills I had grown disappointed with the progress of the USO concept introduced by Lord Carter’s Digital Britain report.

People had been telling me that USO was now USC – C for commitment. This was confirmed today. What’s more there was no guarantee of 2Mbps on the table they said. In fact there didn’t appear to be a minimum speed guarantee at all! I was rapidly coming to the conclusion that the whole thing was a political con.

Then, talk about a roller coaster conference, Stephen Timms in his speech told us that no, 2Mbps remained the minimum speed people should be getting, and indeed it was an “Obligation”. He confirmed this when I asked the question from the floor.

This is a clear steer from Government here and is in fact an example of the clarity being sought by Ofcom CEO Ed Richards in his own speech earlier in the day.

So there you go you doubters everywhere! Unless the Government changes its mind, 2Mbps is what rural dwellers and the digitally deprived townies will be getting.

Of course the real debate is whether 2Mbps is enough. MP Derek Wyatt suspects it isn’t. We are about to see 3D video games and TV channels which will run over broadband connections.

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Digital Britain high on the agenda at Parliament and Internet Conference

Another busy week in prospect. Tomorrow I’m off to Muswell Hill to test some routers we are considering using for the FTTC trials. Wednesday I’m doing a Hosted VoIP demo at the Convergence Summit South in Sandown Park and finally on Thursday it’s the Parliament and Internet Conference at Portcullis House in Westminster.

You should take note of the latter.  Posts on Parliamentary meetings seem to attract a lot of interest/blog visits long after the event itself has finished. In a sense there is a market for blogging non-stop on this subject. In my book it would make writing the blog a bit boring though.  Order, order!

Anyway this year’s conference has ’em all: Stephen Timms (Minister for Digital Britain and erstwhile commenter on,  Ed Richards (Ofcom) and Martha Lane Fox (the Government’s Digital Inclusion Champion). Lesley Cowley of Nominet is also speaking.

I’m genuinely excited about this year’s event.  With Digital Britain high on everybody’s agenda the conference includes a workshop suggested by yours truly on whether 2Mbps is an adequate target for USO.

If you haven’t already got your name down you are probably too late.  All seats have gone.  If you are going I look forward to seeing you – tap me on the shoulder and say hello. 

Footnote:  “Blazing the Digital Britain Trail from Muswell Hill to Westminster “.   A  pioneering new adventure based somewhere on the wild wild web.  Read all about it on

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Video Streaming Regulation: Is Ofcom Going after YouTube?

This may be something that has been going on for sometime in the background, but Ofcom today launched its consultation into regulation of video on-demand (VOD) services.

Following the Audio Visual Media Services Directive, the Government is to regulate VOD services which are ‘TV-like’. The consultation is looking at whether the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) should regulate advertising in VOD services and is proposing that VOD services be regulated by the Association for Television on Demand (ATVOD).

The regulation will consist of a range of minimum content standard, new VOD rules delivered through a co-regulatory framework,  and Ofcom will be given primary responsibility to ensure the effective operation of the co-regulatory framework.
VOD regulation has to be in place by December 19 and Ofcom is seeking views by October 26.

I did wonder whether this meant that Ofcom would be trying to regulate the likes of YouTube. The consultation document does tell us that whether a service is in scope for regulation is defined by a range of criteria, including: whether the principal purpose of a service is to provide “television-like” programmes, on an on-demand basis, to members of the public; whether such a service falls under UK jurisdiction for the purposes of regulation; and whether the service is under a person’s “editorial responsibility”.

I suspect that YouTube falls outside of the UK for jurisdiction but this might not be the case in my mind if a specific video was stored on servers based in the UK. I don’t know where specific bits of the YouTube cloud are but it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that some of it could one day be in UK datacentres. Looks like another potentially messy situation to me.

PS I note that my post titles are getting more and more tabloid-like and sensationalist. I rely on my friends to tell me when it is getting out of control 🙂

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The Demise of Fixed Broadband

A lively time is being had today at the BT Wholesale ISP Forum. The ISP world is fast moving and with so many changes going on – the move from ADSL Max to 21CN, the introduction of Fibre To The Cabinet, Ethernet in the First Mile – there are always lots of things to talk about.

We had a market presentation given by John Kiernan of the BT Market Research department.  This was largely a regurgitation of this year’s Ofcom Market Report but he also spoke about the move away from fixed broadband to mobile broadband. During the debate from the floor someone mentioned that at the Broadband World Forum in Paris yesterday the talk (presumably by the wireless network operators) was that  wireless broadband was expected to kill off fixed broadband by 2012.

I can’t see this happening in the UK anytime soon although I’m sure that wireless broadband is going to have a big part to play – I use it myself on the move.  Consumers especially are getting more and more tied in to bundles that include their fixed line, TV and broadband. Also fibre brings the potential to provide much faster speeds than are being discussed with wireless broadband (and I know that someone will now tell me you can get Gigabit wireless).

What does concern me is the increase in the pollution of the airwaves which will come with more and more wireless.  I realise we are told it is safe but…

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BSG (Broadband Stakeholders Group) Heads North to Talk COTS (Commercial, Operational and Technical Standards)

I suspect this post title is gobbledegook to some readers. I’m continually having to learn new acronyms myself.

COTS in this case stands for Commercial, Operational and Technical Standards for Independent Local Open Access Networks. It is the latest initiative by the Broadband Stakeholders Group to promote a standard approach to the delivery of the plethora of ad hoc networks that are going to be springing up in the UK in the wake of Digital Britain.

This is to be applauded and on Thursday 3rd of September the BSG is visiting Hull to hold a town hall meeting (it is literally in Hull Town Hall) with the citizens of the North who have felt very much left out of the debate on how to make rural broadband a reality.

The day is split into a colloquium in the morning with the actual COTS meeting starting at 1.30. The COTS agenda is still fluid but an outline is shown below.

COTS Project overview (BSG, 15-20 minutes)

Stakeholder panel (5 mins each)
KCOM – Guy Jarvis,
Fibrestream – Lindsey Annison

Discussion – topics

General discussion on the concept

Are we on the right track? Right objective, right diagnosis of the issues?

The scope of the work

Are the three elements right? Should we focus on particular issues? Anything else we should consider?

Initial thoughts on requirements

What do participants need a solution to be able to do?

Thoughts on the commercial, operational and technical requirements

Views on solutions

Blue sky thoughts, to put ideas forward

Views on the process

Any issues with how we plan to take this forward?

Thoughts on the steering group

Views on membership/composition

Role/remit, how it should operate

The meeting is free to attend. I’d go myself but have a prior appointment in London. I’m sure Lindsay Annison will provide me with some feedback.

Business ofcom Regs

Is Ofcom advocating slamming?

Came across some advice on the Ofcom website today. Entitled “Keeping customers connected” this new note  tells you what to do in case your Communications Provider goes out of business.  I’ve pasted some of the salient points in here:

“If your supplier does go out of business, one of two things should happen.

For phone customers:
(1) You may get a phone call from another telephone company saying that your current provider is going out of business and you need to place an order with another company. They will often give you a deadline by which you need to have switched.”

Later the document advises:

“If any of these things happen, it is better to take action than to wait and hope”

The note covers your phone line and broadband connection though I’ve only reproduced the phone line advice here. The point is that this is verging on encouraging slamming where phone lines are taken over without someone’s consent.  In this case Ofcom is suggesting that people succumb to a pressure sell which is of course the exact opposite to what might be considered normal advice and is indeed why there is usually a cooling off period in many contracts.

I was the victim of slamming myself years ago when Mercury was trying to grow market share.  I was rung by some oik in the sales department who sounded like he had been brought in from their used car sales division and who did not come close to convincing me that I should switch suppliers.  A couple of weeks later I got an invoice thanking me for the business.  The oik clearly had aggressive targets.  Nothing has changed but I would say that in this case Ofcom is not helping matters.

PS Clearly ofcom does not go about advocating slamming but I wonder whether this note has been properly thought through?

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Ofcom report indicates reduction in music downloading

The Communications Market Report published by Ofcom yesterday has thrown up some interesting stats in subject areas regularly commented on in this blog.

For example Ofcom says that there is an overall reduction in the number of people downloading music and videos.  This overall decrease is only 1% but the number is marked in certain age groups.  15 – 24 year olds are downloading 8% fewer files and the maturer 25 – 44 age group is at it 5% less.

Now there is nothing to say that all these downloads are against the law but this must surely point to an overall reduction in illegal P2P filesharing which must in large part be down to all the high profile activity in this space of Feargal Sharkey and UK music. Any comment Feargal?

There is an awful lot of work left to be done in this area and it is going to be the subject of discussion for some years to come.  Ofcom’s chart purloined below – click twice to get a better res view.


Note downloading has increased amongst older folks. One imagines this age group is less likelyto illegally fileshare. Also note increase in uploading content.  This is going to be a driver for Next Gen broadband as currently being rolled out by Virgin and trialled by BT.

Business ofcom Regs voip

Ofcom today published its annual Communications Market Report

Ofcom today published its annual Communications Market Report. At 334 pages long it is a bit of a read but actually, at least if you are in the industry, it is very much worth ploughing through it.  It usually produces lots of interesting material to comment about so I’m probably going to pick and chose a few subjects dear to my heart over the next few days.

Last year the industry had cause to complain big time regarding Ofcom’s measurement of the growth of the VoIP market. In fact I met with the regulator to discuss this very subject earlier in the summer.

This year the report highlights the increasing popularity of VoIP, with evidence showing a growing awareness and take up of the service. According to the research, the number of UK adults using VoIP in Q1 2009 has risen to 12% and 60% of UK adults claim to know about VoIP.

The report does accept that most UK adults do not use the service citing reasons such as insufficient understanding on how it’s used, quality of service issues and competition from low-priced fixed and mobile telecoms services. However Ofcom stresses that many users are unlikely to realise that they are using VoIP technology, e.g. the BT home hub phone, and therefore usage is likely to be higher than the report suggests.

The reports also highlights a decline in the total number of UK fixed lines which is attributed to greater availability of alternative forms of communication including VoIP. The use of VoIP was also one reason attributed to the growth in business voice call volumes by 2.1% in 2008 to 89.1 billion minutes.

It is clear from the report that Ofcom are still unable to obtain genuine statistics of VoIP take-up from their current market research but at least it is progress over last year.

More when the day job allows.

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Initial Take on Digital Britain Report

2Mbps Universal Service Obligation by 2012.
This is the minimum that people need to get into the game. In the report the government recognizes that whilst much of the country will shortly be getting access to faster broadband (aka BT 40Mbps Fibre To The Cabinet or 50Mbps Virgin cable) a significant chunk won’t, which will exacerbate the Digital Divide.

The Government is therefore looking to promote/fund the extension of this Next Generation Access network into these “excluded” areas. I have been saying that 2Mbps is not enough and it is good that the Government clearly recognizes this.

The funding for the rural Next Gen broadband access is likely to come from a complex variety of sources. It includes a new tax levied of 50 pence on every copper phone line. I assume it includes Virgin cable connections to keep the playing field level. This will have to be passed on to customers so the immediate effect is a rise in the cost of broadband. It will also add to the overheads of the ISP which has to collect it.

The funding collected will be available on a competitive tender basis. I would expect the Government to somehow identify specific projects for funding and make the moneys available for competitive bids. Otherwise someone with BT with the massive resources available to put specific projects together would cream all the cash.

Music Piracy
Two things to say here. The Government recognizes that access to legal means of downloading music needs to improve which reinforces what the ISP industry has been saying (note the many blog posts on this subject).

Secondly the Government also wants a more graduated approach to punishing illegal downloaders. The three strikes and you are out approach has been replaced much to everyone’s relief.

We now appear to be looking at a scenario whereby the ISP would send a letter to the end user informing them that they have been identified as offenders. The next step would be to throttle the bandwidth available to users indulging in this activity or block P2P. The final resort would be legal action.

A cautionary note here. Most ISPs cannot easily block P2P. Only those big consumer players typically have the kit that can do it. Are we looking at the same scenario as the Data Retention Act where the Government only expects an ISP to follow the law only if specifically asked. In this case the ISP would have to be funded to do it.

There is also a fairly significant onus on Ofcom to make all this happen which is going to be an interesting play. I imagine it will take no small level of resource which probably doesn’t currently exist.

All in all I think this is a good report.  There were always going to be difficulties with putting together a document with such a wide remit and I’m sure that as we get time to digest it other questions will arise.  However Lord Carter should be able to move on to his fresh challenges with a reasonable sense of satisfaction.

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Broadband Internet Access. Ofcom says 1 in 5 of Households Without Will Get It Within 6 Months

Ofcom says Broadband Internet Access is coming to 1 in 5 currently without it.

An Ofcom study suggests that 2 in 10 people without broadband internet access at home intend to get it within the next six months.  They say that 70% of us already have it (68% broadband internet, 2% narrowband!). So the 20% of the remaining 30% suggests that 6% of the whole population will rush to sign up in the next 6 months.

That’s a fairly significant number of people signing up for broadband internet access.  Being a bit of a sceptic sometimes I did read the report (exec summary anyway, me being an exec and all) to see whether I could believe it.

Actually, there is one simple metric that does tend to support the number:  growth in people with PCs at home. The chart below shows the growth in fixed, mobile, internet and PC use at home.  You can see that a significant 4 percent of people have a PC but not an internet connection. That together with a continued growth trend does suggest credibility.

Note the flat mobile growth and the gradual decline in fixed line.

ofcom broadband internet access

Business ofcom voip

Ofcom market research

Had an interesting meeting with the Ofcom market research team.  This is the team responsible for the Annual Communications Market Report which is a must read if you are in our game.

The meeting was arranged by Ofcom’s Chris Rowsell because the VoIP service provider  industry, via trade body ITSPA, had expressed concern that the VoIP content of last year’s report showed a decline in consumer use of the technology.  This was not the actual experience of the ITSPA membership so this year we wanted to try and help make sure that the research that was conducted was more accurate.

After the meeting I did come away with a certain degree of sympathy for Ofcom.  It is very difficult to come up with an easy definition for VoIP that can be understood by the general public so that accurate research can be conducted. 

It didn’t really help that some of the example service providers used by Ofcom in the research questionnaire were of services that no one in the room had ever heard of. If industry experts could not answer what chance Joe Public?

Another interesting part of the mix is that the only bit of the Annual Report that Ofcom is required to cover under statute is the TV market. This means that the mobile/fixed line telephony/internet bit is optional and the regulator is only interested in covering bits that might affect the legislative decision making process. So consumer VoIP is of interest to them but not business VoIP.

As a Business to Business VoIP provider Timico, along with most ITSPs in the UK is only interested in the business market numbers. This is somewhat disappointing to the industry which is left without a particularly accurate metric of its size.

We left the meeting with a some positive actions. Ofcom is quite happy to take on board suggestions from ITSPA as to how the research can be improved and although there isn’t much time this year to get it done, this is something we will take onboard. Secondly, in the absence of their own data, Ofcom appears to be willing to publish the numbers collected by ITSPA member and Communications Consultancy Illume which gathers basic industry subscriber numbers on a quarterly basis.

Hopefully we will be able to help improve  the VoIP aspect of the report this year.

Business ofcom Regs

Ofcom 0870 statement

Ofcom has just published a statement regarding the charges that Communications Providers apply for calls to 0870 numbers.  This has been in the pipeline and in the news off and on for what seems like a couple of years and is in response to complaints that the public did not know that 0870 numbers were more expensive to call than 01,02,03 geographic numbers.

This will mean that calling the TV Licensing Authority to tell them you don’t have a TV should no longer cost as much as the license fee (depending in all fairness on how long you are on hold but the concept is a good one).

Reality is that businesses build in the revenue shares they get from using 0870 numbers into their business model.  The enforced reduction in pricing will undoubtedly bring “transparency”, as Ofcom likes to call it, into the game but industry will still need to recover the costs, notionally by charging more elsewhere.

The new Ofcom rules come into force on 1st August. The statement can be read here.

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interview with Sebastien Lahtinen of

Hard as it may be to believe ADSL has been around in the UK for 10 years or so. In this time we have seen big changes in the industry. Market penetration has reached 58% of households (Ofcom 2008 review) and we are onto our third generation of technology.

Sebastien Lahtinen is known to many as the driving force behind and before that As such he has been at the heart of the UK broadband industry as both an observer and participant since its beginnings.

TD Seb, tell us a bit about how you got into the broadband industry and what inspired you to originally found

SL Back in the late nineties I was looking to get onto a cable broadband service but my cable operator Nynex (which became C&W, then NTL and now Virgin Media) wasn’t offering the service in my area. I then heard about this ‘ADSL’ technology and that Demon Internet was running trials in some areas. Whilst I couldn’t get onto a trial myself, John Hunt, a good friend of mine who started the site up with me was able to do so.

I felt that that there was a need for somewhere impartial for users to go, to find out about this new emerging technology. Of course these days, the providers have perfected their support and provisioning systems so our role has slightly changed. We now have to serve a far wider, less technical, user base.

TD morphed into This was mainly because adsl was no longer the only driving technology in this space. Has this made a difference to how the website is perceived/used.

SL There are still people that consider us as an ‘ADSL’ site but we’re working hard to cover other broadband technologies including cable and mobile broadband. Our staff obviously understand the development and background of ADSL technology far better, but we are trying to build relationships with non-ADSL providers so we can offer users the best advice no matter what technology they want to use.

TD What makes thinkbroadband different to all the other comparison sites that now exist?

SL We don’t regard our site as a ‘comparison’ site in that we set it up to provide users with information about broadband generally, not just as a way comparing service providers. You can see this by comparing our front page which is more about news than trying to get you to switch service provider. Obviously, the ability to find a suitable supplier is part of what we do, but it’s by no means the primary role of the site.

The majority of the broadband sites out there (with ourselves and being obvious exceptions), were set up when service providers started offering commission for websites which referred a customer to them. In fact, this is the business model on which they operate. Some of them even compare insurance, credit cards, etc. as well.

Obviously, we have costs too and we need to ensure we can pay for those big servers that run the speed tests and to employ staff who can help to improve our site, but the major difference between us and most other sites, is we set the site up for the community, rather than as a business, and most of us are still doing this part time alongside full time jobs which pay our salaries.

TD The site has become very popular and this must put strain on your infrastructure. How did you manage the growth?

SL Around the same sort of time in early summer of 2000, I co-founded a hosting business with Jeremy Ainsworth who also got involved in ADSLguide. In fact, our very first server dedicated to serving ADSLguide was a spare box Jeremy had available which we put into Telehouse. We kept throwing more resources at it as it grew.

Our forums too gained their own momentum and we started seeing load issues when Pipex users took over the forums following some heated discussions about their service. David Rickards of Pipex was kind enough to donate a new server to us which helped us grow the forums to the next phase.

We started providing speed tests, and much more and our infrastructure had to grow with that. This is still very important to us to ensure we can deliver the fastest and most reliable speed test services.

TD Since that time what are the milestones that stick in your mind that measure the development of broadband in the UK

SL I think the first key milestone was when BT introduced the ‘wires only’ install which meant you didn’t have to use the ‘Alcatel frog’ (or ‘stingray’ as some people call it) with drivers that didn’t always work and the setup fee dropped from £150 to £50 making the service more universally affordable.

The second milestone I believe was BT’s “Broadband Britain” campaign which encouraged communities to get involved in raising broadband take-up and getting virtually all the exchanged enabled.

The third was the introduction of rate-adaptive ADSL and what we now know as the ‘up to 8 meg’ services. Since then, many other providers have started pushing the speed boundaries with LLU and especially recently Virgin Media on its 50 meg service too.

I believe the next challenge will be bringing those who are currently outside of broadband coverage into the digital world.

TD We are now seeing the Government talking about Universal Service Obligation concerning the provision of 2Mbps broadband to all homes. Do you believe this is practical?

SL We do believe that a USO is absolutely necessary and that the level at which it is set should be reviewed regularly. Our current concern is more for those who cannot get any broadband service, than those who are stuck on say 1Mbps services, as this is a far more fundamental problem that needs to be dealt with as a matter of urgency. I could probably survive on a 1Mbps connection, but I can’t imagine living ‘without broadband’ at all.

We also have some doubts as to whether it is possible to simplify a USO as just “2Mbps downstream” service.  There are factors such as upstream speed, latency, jitter, etc. that could for example prevent access to next generation telephony service over the Internet which have the potential to revolutionise how we communicate. These don’t make as interesting a sound bite but they are still important.

TD As the internet becomes more important to our every day lives the Government is increasingly seen as becoming involved with decisions that affect the direction of the industry. Do you see this as good or bad and is it inevitable? What are your thoughts on the Digital Britain Report?

SL The Government has an important role in ensuring a regulatory environment which both fosters innovation and diversity of supply, but also protects those who may not have the resources or skills to protect themselves. However, it is important, that in achieving the latter, it does not stifle the former.

The Internet has developed in an environment with very minimal regulation and low barriers to entry, and it is these unique circumstances that have allowed it to develop so quickly. The Internet feeds on the concept of rapid innovation and improvement. One day you launch a brilliant new service; the next, your competitor has outdone you. It’s a bit like a car manufacturer being able to release a new updated model every week.

The way we think and use information since the evolution of the web has changed. We now combine information from different sources in new ways. This is only possible if those with an idea have the means and willingness to execute it. It does however mean re-thinking the way intellectual property rights are protected, both to preserve the incentive for those who work hard to benefit from their efforts, but also to allow for people to take advantage of new technologies without being criminalised.

In my view, the role of the Government is to encourage good practice and getting directly involved only where it is absolutely necessary to protect the interests of the country and its economy. So far, the UK Government has taken a ‘light touch’ approach which has helped us become a key capital at the heart of the Internet.

I suspect that Government will become more involved in the discussion about the future of the Internet as it is so fundamentally linked to the success of the country and the Digital Britain report is evidence of this. We also have to accept that there is a role for an entity to represent the interests of the minority who are unable to use the Internet for whatever reason. It is no longer sufficient for us to cover 99.9%; The Internet should be for everyone.

TD We now hear of talk of 1Gbps fibre to the home in Japan which doesn’t even appear on the long range radar here in the UK. How do you think the UK will fare in the international competitive stakes when it comes to internet technology.

SL The UK has a habit of comparing itself to other countries and being very negative about its position. The fact is, there is very little content on the Internet which can truly benefit from a 100Mbps let alone a 1Gbps connection today. Quite simply, the core Internet infrastructure can’t  cope with delivery this level of service on any scale at a price that most of us would be willing to pay.

I do however have concerns that we aren’t looking at a national fibre network more seriously. Whilst I accept that the needs of the next few years will be met by new ways to push more out of copper (both in ADSL and cable variants) and hybrid fibre-coax/copper solutions, sooner or later end-to-end fibre optic cabling will be needed and it is likely that this will require Government support by way of easing regulation or co-ordinating the efforts of communications providers to build an efficient and competitive network.

The reason fibre makes sense is because information travels along it at the speed of light so its capacity to deliver next generation services is far greater. The fibre optic cabling used to deliver 100Mbps or 1Gbps a decade ago is used to push multiple links of 10Gbps each today and 100Gbps in the not too distant future. It is a technology that is more future-proof than copper.

TD Finally would you care to make any predictions regarding the internet in the UK over the next year or two?

SL I think we will start seeing more new developments receiving next generation broadband services at up to 100Mbps in cities as the costs of linking these back to the data centres (the buildings where the ‘core’ of the Internet is based) is falling.

I also believe that the the much talked about convergence of technologies will start happening, initially with TV-on-demand services being delivered over the Internet to your set-top-box. Eventually (probably a few years later), I think Internet-connected fridges are likely to become more common.

TD Thanks very much for your time Seb.

Business ofcom voip

Update on 999 location information for VoIP

Ofcom is waiting to see what the forthcoming amendments to the European Universal Services Directive look like before deciding what to do about VoIP location information.  There has been some pressure to make VoIP providers provide the ability to record location information based on the IP address of the caller.

This, whilst technically doable, is very complex and likely to be hugely expensive. What’s more most VoIP providers are not ISPs and therefore do not have access to an ISP’s core network and customer database to be able to facilitate this.  Those ISPs providing services to customers wanting to run VoIP therefore have no incentive to spend the cash.

More on this in due course but probably not until towards the end of the year.

Business ofcom Regs

Regulators at odds with EU over number porting

EU Commissioner for Communications Vivian Reding has been in the news recently threatening to sue the UK over its stance on behavioural advertising. Her name came up again yesterday at my meeting with Ofcom during a discussion on Number Porting.

The coordinated effort to create a Number Porting system for fixed and mobile numbers ground to a halt last year following a law suit by Vodafone.

In the meantime there is activity going on behind the scenes at the regulators to try and rekindle the movement. Viviane Reding, I understand, is particularly keen to sort out the mobile market.

She apparently wants consumers to be able to walk into mobile retail stores and port their numbers on the spot. Do I hear some clapping coming from the back row?  The problem is that this is at odds with National Governments’ attempts at consumer protection.

Government doesn’t want to let operators and their agents push people into changing suppliers without giving them a cooling off period to reconsider their ways. Quite laudible actually.

I think we are going to have a fun time with Viviane Reding over the next year or two.