Business net neutrality Regs

EC Single Telecoms Package position on roaming charges and Net Neutrality

European Commission plan to end roaming charges and establish net neutrality rules – EC Single Telecoms Package

Hot in from the ITSPA (Internet Telephony Service Providers Association) secretariat is this commentary:  Late last night the European Commission, Council and Parliament concluded their final round of negotiations on the Single Telecoms Package. The key parts of this initiative are a plan to end mobile roaming charges and the establishment of net neutrality rules.

With regard to net neutrality, the following principles have been agreed to:

  • All traffic to be treated equally with no blocking, throttling, degradation or discrimination of Internet traffic and also no paid prioritisation.
  • There are a limited number of exceptions to the general net neutrality rule:
    1. compliance with legislation related to the lawfulness of content or with criminal law;
    2. preservation of the security and integrity of the network (malware, DOS);
    3. minimising network congestion that is temporary or exceptional; and
    4. spam and parental control filters (with prior request, consent and possibility to withdraw consent)
  • The provision of specialised services is allowed as long as this does not harm general open internet access. Specialised services are services that require technical requirements which cannot be ensured in the best-effort open Internet.
  • Zero-rating of traffic will be allowed, but regulatory authorities will have to monitor and ensure compliance with net neutrality rules.
  • National regulatory authorities will be tasked to monitor and enforce open Internet rules and will be empowered to set minimum quality of service requirements on Internet access providers.

ITSPA has published a press release welcoming the news which can be viewed here. In summary, we are pleased with the news and have supported the Latvian Presidency of the European Council’s work on the subject which has found a compromise which balances Open Internet principles with an approach that ensures that the Internet can still be run in an effective manner.

ITSPA has campaigned on this subject – particularly the practice of mobile VoIP applications being blocked by network operators for anti-competitive reasons (which will now be prohibited) – for approximately two years at both EU and UK level. The announcement should be considered a great achievement for ITSPA.

The new rules are expected to come into force in early 2016.

The Council has published a press release and the European Commission has published a fact sheet – the latest agreed text has not yet been published.

PS we can particularly look forward to the end of the mobile data roaming ripoff.

broadband Business net neutrality

Global broadband competition stakes heat up

China broadband

Picked up this article in Total Telecom.  China plans to spend $327Bn on rolling out ubiquitous broadband by 2020. The slowest performance will be 20Mps with urban connurbations (or however you spel it:) ) of more than 200k people getting 100Megs.

I don’t know how that compares with the per head spending in the UK but I guess the two things that stick in the mind are the 100Megs in cities and 20Megs on the farm. It’s very difficult to come up with a business model that justifies the investment but of course in China that doesn’t matter.

The UK government should take heed though. In some respect, at least in the cities, competition will ensure that we get the speeds we need. Poor old Farmer Giles however is never going to be looked after. Unless he looks after himself and even then they will probably be exporting milk from China to rural Britain because Farmer 賈爾斯 (look it up) is going to have an edge on him.

Actually there are some things you just can’t leave to a competitive marketplace. I was at RIPE70 in Amsterdam last week (now a distant memory). Someone from the GSMA stood up and towed some bland corporate line on how market competition meant that net neutrality was not an issue in the mobile space. We all know that this is total rubbish. At least in the UK.

I was able to inform the assembly that the only reason net neutrality had been accepted by some mobile operators in the UK was down to 3 years of intensive lobbying (including by ITSPA) and the tacit threat of government legislation if operators didn’t toe the line.

So sometimes governments do need to get involved, even if as in the case of net neutrality they were just a threatening presence in the room. I think that our government should really start thinking about how a competitive UK plc should have a competitive broadband infrastructure, and by this I don’t mean the cheapest services although that does help.

We have always struggled with finding MPs that understand technology enough to be able to make informed decisions. I even recall an anecdote a few years ago whereby the civil servants who worked on the Digital Britain report had all been joking about the fact that none of them had ever been on Facebook. I guess that having ex Facebook Director Joanna Shields in the government could help here. We now also have former Telegraph Technology Editor Matt Warman as an MP.

Only time will tell whether these new kids on the Parliamentary block will make any difference. We shall see. In the meantime if you live in China broadband is coming your way.

Business net neutrality Regs

ITSPA Heroes and Champions Awards

ITSPA Champions are Philip Davies MP and Jon Beardmore. Latvian EU Presidency gets members pick.  net neut

philip davies mp itspa awardSomewhat belated congratulations ot Philip Davies MP and ITSPA Council member Jon Beardmore on their winning of the ITSPA Champions category of the ITSPA Awards, held last Thursday at the Tate Modern.

Philip Davies won it for his support in tackling anti-competitive blocking of VoIP services by certain mobile providers. That’s him pictured centre with me on the left and AQL CEO Adam Beaumont on the right.

Likewise Jon Beardsmore, pictured with me below, was a winner for his work in leading ITSPAs efforts on the open internet over the last three years. The combined efforts of our two winners have been particularly successful. Philip Davies raised the profile in parliament and Jon has been putting pressure on all stakeholders.

trf john beardsmore itspa awardsThe upshot is that all major network operators have openly committed to net neutrality – a position that was definitely not the case hitherto – something that has been hidden in the small print of ts and cs never read by customers.

Kudos to Jon’s employer BT for giving him free reign to to this work which has involved frequent travel to Brussels.

This leads me on the the ITSPA Awards Members’ Pick which is The Latvian Presiedncy of The European Union and was given “for their leadership in developing a workable council text on the Open Internet”. This might surprise you but Latvia has taken a lead in promoting net neutrality against a plethora of vested interests.

I quote ITSPA Chair  Eli Katz: ‘We have been very active in this area over the last few years. We believe the Latvian Presidency’s Open Internet proposals strike the right balance between promoting competition whilst enabling innovation. They will put an end to abusive practices by a minority of ISPs who have tried to frustrate competition with their own services whilst at the same time allowing specialised services to be offered with enhanced levels of prioritisation. This is essential if the internet is to reach its full potential – for example by delivering TV services over broadband to free up valuable radio spectrum for mobiles.’

The featured image is of Guy Miller ITSPA Council Member presenting the award to Ildze Jansone, Coordinator of the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the EU at the Embassy of Latvia in the United Kingdom. She shot off before I could get one of her and me (no idea why!) so I’ve used this one courtesy of ITSPA.

So all in all a good day for net neutrality at the ITSPA Awards. Loads of posts on net neutrality on this site btw. Check them out here.

broadband Engineer engineering net neutrality

ISP traffic management policies

An overview of consumer ISP traffic management policies

ISP traffic management in which some types of traffic may be prioritised over others has been the subject of an ongoing debate. This is particularly the case amongst the Internet Telephony Service Provider (ITSP) communities but also elsewhere. NetNeutrality is the issue (look it up) and is extensively covered on this blog.

This post is a simple one. It takes a look at the biggest six ISPs, tells you if they traffic manage and provides a link to the ISP’s own pages on the subject.

ISP Do they traffic manage? Comments
BT No Fair play to them
EE Yes Lots of contractual stuff
Plusnet Yes Looks complicated to me
Sky Yes and No Sky Connect only – Unlimited and Lite packages are free of Traffic Management
TalkTalk No Except to prioritise TV packets which is fair enough
Virgin Media Yes Also looks complicated

It is generally the case that if an ISP does traffic manage they generally prioritise time sensitive packets such as VoIP and gaming. Traditionally this has been done to save bandwidth costs at peak times. However I will say that if TalkTalk who are traditionally seen as a pile it high sell it cheap ISP who you might think would need to conserve bandwidth costs,  can manage without traffic management, so to speak then there should no reason why all the others can’t follow suit. BT and Sky (mostly) do.

It could be down to their having older core networks that require investment but I can’t say for sure. Whatever the reason, bandwidth is cheap and ISP traffic management needs to be seen only in the rear view mirror. It is outdated.

This does to a certain extent come down to scale. The bigger your network the cheaper the bandwidth on a per unit basis. 1Gig connectivity is more expensive per gig that 10Gig etc etc etc

If you need more details on ISP traffic management click on the links in the table. Lots more stuff also on this blog here.

Ciao amigos.

End User net neutrality

Namecheap promotes Net Neutrality in USA

Namecheap Net Neutrality video simplifies the message to the man in the street.

Net Neutrality as a subject could provide enough posts for a stand alone blog. Probably does somewhere. There are certainly enough posts on the subject on this site including this recent one from Pete Farmer. Was chatting to Matt Russell of  hosting and domain name co Namecheap (and this morning who mentioned that a Namecheap Net Neutrality video was going live this afternoon. The above YouTube video is the outcome.

The Net Neutrality debate has to a large extent been the demesne of industry. Network operators and content providers in the main. This Namecheap video is a very good attempt to get the message about Net Neutrality across to the man in the street who probably doesn’t understand the issue. The issue, if you are one of those men in the street, is that telcos want to charge content providers for delivering their content reliably to you. Telcos want to do this because delivering an ever greater amount of content is costing them money. There is a very recent example where OTT video provider Neteflix has had to pay telco Comcast to provide sufficient bandwidth to meet their streaming needs.

This was not a very good precedent but Netflix were caught in a difficult position.  They needed to be able to guarantee a certain quality of picture to their customers. Comcast also provide their own video services so arguably this could be seen as being anti-competitive. The point of course is that the customer, in this case of both Comcast and Netflix is already paying for the bandwidth.

The biggest issue is that this could be just the tip of the iceberg. We could end up with a multilayer internet where some people who can afford it get a better service that others. This is certain to stifle innovation in internet services where start-ups might be unable to pay to guarantee the delivery of their product.


End User internet Legal net neutrality

Consumer Rights and Net Neutrality

Consumer Rights is a far less toxic term than Net Neutrality.

I’ve previously written for Trefor.Net on the subject of Net Neutrality and what it means to members of the VoIP community. And I think it’s high time for an update, but this time considering consumer rights.

After a promising start the European Union went off the rails, passing a first reading of a text that essentially outlawed 4G services. VoLTE requires prioritisation. Hard line elements on the subject of “net neutrality” managed to convince a strange coalition that it was a good idea to promote their ideological definition just before an election. It was spun as a vote winner, this despite that fact that 999 calls would no longer be treated differently. Consumer rights being protected, were they?

Unforeseen consequences at their worse, which is why I believe that net neutrality is now a toxic term and should be avoided. In fact, I’ve worked on briefing documents that are four pages long that completely avoid the term. I also try to avoid “Open Internet” for similar reasons, as both — as I’ve written before — mean different things to different people.

That’s where consumer rights come into play.

What we want is a level playing field. We want a distribution system for content that doesn’t discriminate against certain types of lawful content for vested reasons. Most of all, we don’t want people misled, and we want consumer rights upheld.

If you ask the average consumer on the street whether Skype and YouTube are part of the internet, anyone other than a recent immigrant from Outer Mongolia that would no doubt answer “no”. By extension, I defy you to find anyone, other than hardcore employees of EE and Vodafone, who would suggest that internet access does not include access to Skype, YouTube, or similar services.

Remember the outrage when people were buying 15 burgers for 99p and it transpired that those burgers were made from horses? It’s the same thing. It’s a basic principle of consumer law that you don’t mislead at the point of sale; be it overtly or through trickery in the small print. Consumer rights need to be protected.

This is why I was so heartened to see Philip Davies MP (Conservative member of Parliament for Shipley) build upon his great performance sticking it to Ed Richards (Ofcom CEO – 40 minutes into the video on the link) on the subject by tabling an amendment to the latest consumer rights bill. This amendment basically just said that you can’t call something “internet” unless it complies with the spirit of everything I’ve said before. For those who are interested, the amended stated;

A term which has the object or effect of permitting a trader to block, restrict or otherwise hinder the access of a consumer to any lawful Electronic Communications Network or Electronic Communications Service on the basis of an unreasonable or unusual definition of “internet access”, “data”, “web access” or similar word or phrase. Nothing in this prohibition shall affect filters for the purpose of child protection.

Electronic Communications Network or Electronic Communications Service shall have the same meaning as in the Communications Act 2003.

tn_own_consumer-rights_tweetPhilip Davies MP is a libertarian Conservative and as a result is one of my favourite MPs. This means he’s often at polar opposites to Her Majesty’s Opposition and an uncomfortable bed fellow with their coalition partners. That makes it even more incredible that the amendment was gladly supported by both the Shadow Minister, Helen Goodman MP and Julian Huppert MP (Liberal Democrat Member for. Cambridge and a good advocate for the technological community). A rare moment of cross party backbench support that, alas, was defeated without Government support, which is still backing the self regulation horse.

All the amendment sought to do was to ensure that the likes of Vodafone and historically EE would be unable to call a spade anything other than a spade and that consumer rights would be upheld. As such, defeat was a great disappointment.

In any event, word on the street is that there may soon be new signatories to the Broadband Stakeholder Group’s Open Internet Code of Conduct. The amendment may get re-tabled in the House of Lords. And The Council of Europe may well get its ducks back in a row.

The battle is one that is very much being fought on three fronts, however the momentum is now behind those of us who just want a level playing field to compete on. Who knows, it might even be over by Christmas.

End User fun stuff net neutrality Regs travel

Connected Like a Peasant

On a recent trip to France, I spent a day and a half in Chartres. I toured the cathedral there. I think there are strong similarities between the way we relate to technology today and the way people once related to technology in medieval Europe. This applies to emerging technologies, such as augmented reality and issues of net neutrality.

While in Chartres I learned that the latin word cathdra means seat. Thus, in medieval times the religious centers were the seat of power, which is how those domed buildings that housed the centers of power came to be known as cathedrals. We retain the same sense of the word when we refer to a seat of government, or a county seat – other places where domed buildings house the centers of power. These seats are the places where decisions are made on the behalf of other — is that enough foreshadowing on the net neutrality issue?

I picked up this etymology lesson from an old codger…er, scholar named Malcolm Miller. Or, rather, Sir Malcolm, as the gentleman has been knighted. Twice. Sir Malcolm is a British tour guide — a living legend, really — who has been working at the Chartres cathedral for 57 years. I didn’t know he was a living legend before I arrived in Chartres, however after spending 90 minutes listening to him talk I can see why he is so revered.

The nature of Sir Malcolm’s tour is to tell stories and he did just that, telling us about the meaning of the pictures in the stained glass. He explained that we can approach the elaborate stained glass like we would approach a modern day library. (Remember that the guy is 80 years old. He still thinks libraries serve a vital function. We let it slide. Library…Internet…same thing.)

Sir Malcolm began the tour by asking, “Would you go into a library and say, ‘Let’s meet for an hour and read all the books?’ No, of course not,” he continued, “and so to read all the history just in this church would likewise take a lifetime.”

He was explaining that the church was both a seat of power and a center of learning. That is, in a time when most people did not read or write, in a time when paper did not exist, the sculptures and stained glass of the church were the historical record of society. And who interprets the historical record? Of course, those who hold the money to sponsor the building of that historical record.

Chartres Map

By the end of 2014, according to Cisco research, the number of connected devices will exceed the world’s population — more than seven billion. Imagine that, a world in which digital devices on The Network outnumber humans. And how about this tidbit…by end of this year, 864 million phones and 103 million cars will support augmented reality (AR).

We are becoming more connected to information through our devices. Well, duh.

But is this new? I mean, sure, the mechanics of the digital devices are new, but I mean is it new to have society so interconnected through a mainstream channel of information?

Consider this: Today I can slip Google Glass on my head, hold up a can of creamed corn to read its bar code, and…voila! Google Glass will tell me the story of that can of corn (well, some unnamed database will tell the story). Calories, ingredients, nutritional value, etc., all that metadata tells me a modern story regarding that little piece of the external world. It’s metadata on the real world; the same as a stained glass window was, once upon a time.

I know it is one serious leap, comparing a web site or an Internet-enabled app to a stained glass window in a cathedral, but isn’t it the same relationship? Do we not look at all this metadata and information as stories of the “real” world? Isn’t that what modern technology is trying to provide us now – a way to better understand the world? That, and a means of connecting and communicating with people? That’s the modern version of stained glass in a cathedral.


On the tour, I also learned something about how that stained glass got into those cathedrals. Sir Malcolm pointed out a couple of important features, such as the marks in the stone below each 30-foot high piece of colored glass — marks similar to logos — that identified who paid for that particular piece. Furthermore, our trusty guide said that the story told in each glass was the story that the sponsor wanted to have told. For example, the cobblers of the region paid to put in a stained glass that told the story of the Good Samaritan as well as the story of Adam and Eve’s fall from the Garden of Eden. The cobblers, for some reason, were trying to make a link between those two stories. Sir Malcolm explained that the story in the glass was a commentary on the Bible stories, providing material with which the clergy could instruct society. The commentaries were a way of informing society of two important things: (1) What was in the Bible, and (2) How people should behave, based on what was in the Bible.

So we see that it was not solely the church that interpreted reality. The merchants who worked with and built the church also had a say in the stories being told. These sponsors included guilds of cobblers, water bearers (think municipal water system), bakers, wine makers (think of all that wine purchased for the sacrament), cheese makers (blessed are the cheese makers), etc.

The church of medieval Europe was big business. He who told the story in those seats of power, called cathedrals, controlled the social structure.

Augmented reality? Net neutrality? Some big issues are on the horizon, matters that will change the basic structure of human society. Perhaps we can learn something from the history of the medieval church. Maybe, just maybe, we can take the time to recall the importance of the Golden Rule. You remember the Golden Rule, right? Go look it up — at the library.

Related posts:

broadband Engineer net neutrality voip

VoIP not working over your broadband connection? We may have the explanation.

VoIP over broadband not working? It may be the router.

Routers provided by some major ISPs are preventing their customers from using VOIP services such as Skype.

For some time now members of the Internet Telephony Service Providers Association have been keeping a list of routers through which VoIP doesn’t appear to work. The routers themselves include functionality or elements of firmware that are either not user configurable or there are elements of the ISP service that mandate their router without an obvious means of using an alternative. This means that if a customer wants to use Over The Top VoIP services such as those provided by ITSPA members they usually can’t.

Unfortunately whilst this may well not be a deliberate act of anti competitiveness on behalf of the ISP it has the same effect as if VoIP was being blocked in the ISP network – interesting considering that some of these ISPs offer VoIP services of their own.

If you have such a router you probably can’t use Skype or any other VoIP service offered by the 100 or so independent providers in the UK. Whether this is deliberate or not is a moot point. The end result is that the ISP is affecting your ability to use the broadband service you pay for.

Most major ISPs are signatories to the Broadband Stakeholders’ Group Code of Practice and have undertaken to respect what is known as Net Neutrality or the promise not to favour any one type of traffic over another. This is a fundamental principle of how the internet works.

If an ISP provided routers over which 3rd Party VoIP services did not work whilst their own VoIP service continued to work perfectly well they would be flouting these principles. Effectively they would on the one hand be saying they are “good guys” which comes with obvious PR benefits whilst in practice being “bad guys”.

Dan Winfield, CEO of VoIP provider Voxhub says:

“This is an ongoing problem. It can affect customers that work from home at any time even if they have things up and running. A new update is shipped out by an ISP and effectively wipes out their phones. You can see the roll outs happening over a period of time as people call for support. The worse side of this is that customers get angry with us and we cannot do much. We cannot guarantee our service will work on home broadband as a result. When we roll out to offices, we always supply routers to get round the problem but this doesn’t work for home users.”

Not all ISPs are affected. It would be interesting to hear from any reader who has a broadband service but over which VoIP will not work.

net neutrality voip

The Smoking Rooms of Net Neutrality welcomes VoIP Week contributor Dan Winfield, Co-Founder and CEO of Voxhub and 2014 ITSPA Council member.

Net neutrality is a hot topic amongst those in the VoIP industry and something all VoIP providers have had to deal with in one form or another, usually looming its head in the land of large network providers and mobile networks. Did you know, though, that there are many places in the UK where you are not free to use your favourite VoIP provider? No joke, as difficult as it is to believe, there are still places in 2014 that judge based on the protocol. And these places are on every block, every city and are allowed to openly discriminate.

Yes, I am talking about serviced offices.

VoIP services are about flexibility, and ironically this is what serviced offices are supposed to offer. So why do I put my head in my hands when I hear that a client is moving to a serviced office? In my experience, Voxhub customers making such a move typically have to leave because they are not allowed to use our service or they cannot do so due to firewall blocking. Also, much stress is generated during such ‘events’ due to customers becoming annoyed with the situation and, in the case of blocking, are often caught between two parties with no service! Of course, at Voxhub we do our best to find a diplomatic solution for any customers wanting to move to a serviced office, but it isn’t a task we like to undertake.

Before going any further I should say that I am fully aware of the financial dynamics of serviced offices, and the fact that they often have to invest in telephony for whole buildings in advance and figure out how to somehow repay this investment.  The grey area in all of this — and where the real problem lies — is that all serviced offices supply ‘Internet’ to their customers. Thus, as ‘VoIP services’ are synonymous with ‘Internet’, such services should not be blocked on the grounds that they compete with the in-house telephony VoIP or otherwise.

So why do I care? Let me quote Bender, that wise robot from the much loved cartoon “Futurama”:

“This is the worst kind of discrimination. The kind against me!”

I’ll explain. I have spent much of the last 6 months looking for office space for our Voxhub team in London, and as such have been forced to enter the underbelly of the office world as a potential customer. We sought our own office, but also investigated the serviced office option. Normally I would cross the road when I see a serviced office for fear of being jeered at, but there is a disturbing new type that dress themselves up as modern, fun and ‘Internet’ savvy. They even have high ceilings, wooden floors, unfinished walls and random furniture in corners of rooms. I was fooled, enough at least to give the concept a chance.

In one case, I was actually quite near to signing up with one of these new breed serviced offices. Naturally, I had asked questions about using our own phones, but I always had a sneaky feeling that they didn’t understand. At the very end of the process, in fact, they asked me how many of their phones I would want, and they even went as far as to increase the quoted rent costs when I said they could keep their phones because I didn’t need them. They tried to concede, but then stupidly said I had to pay an extra charge based on the number of phones in the room. Anyone who has seen our desks knows that this is a dumb thing to say, as during service development or trials we often have upwards of three or four phones on a single desk! Of course, I told them to stuff it.

I decided to make one last set of enquiries for serviced offices to see if my prejudice is correct. Sadly, it only made it clearer in my mind that these businesses need to be slapped into shape when it comes to understanding net neutrality.

  • All advertised Internet but gave no warning that certain services were not allowed.
  • Many very clearly indicated that I could not use VoIP telephones.
  • Some said I could use Skype but not the Voxhub service.
  • Some didn’t know anything but told me I had to direct my question to their telecom provider.

I had a very colourful call with one lady that highlights the problem. She told me that for our service I was allowed to use a software phone like Skype, that I wasn’t allowed to use a hardware VoIP phone, that I was allowed to use a laptop with a headset (and if the headset looked like a phone handset, that was also OK), and that I wasn’t allowed to use a laptop that looked like a phone with my headset from the previous question that looked like a handset.

VoIP Serviced Offices

As you can no doubt imagine, at this point I was trying not to laugh and the woman was probably wishing she hadn’t spoken to me. I snuck in one last question about using a phone that looked like a laptop, but I think by that point she realised something was going on and made an excuse about me needing to speak to someone more technical.

In all seriousness, by the end of the process I felt that not only was VoIP effectively blacklisted, but that my business wasn’t even allowed to trade in a serviced office without using someone else’s phones or paying danger money for being there!

A serviced office, in my opinion, should be considered a service provider and be included as part of any regulatory requirements and / or best practices, especially if they have outsourced their operations to a service provider that in any other environment would not operate this type of practice.

At day’s end, I am extremely glad that we were pushed away from taking a serviced office. Voxhub has now been accepted as a member of TechHub (we love hubs) and we are moving into our new studio space in Old Street today!

VoIP Week Posts:

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Net Neutrality and Telephony

Net neutrality and VoIP telephony – thorny issues the industry needs to negotiate welcomes “VoIP Week” contributor Rob Pickering, CEO of ipcortex.

Most folks who work in the VoIP industry have at some point been subject to a casual horror story from a new acquaintance about evil VoIP and how they tried it once and that it nearly brought their business to its knees. My heart sinks whenever I realise that this is the direction in which the conversation is going, at which point I usually find myself wishing I’d said that I did something less controversial for a living…like writing computer networking software! I listen, though, nodding politely, already forming a conclusion — after all, it would be unlikely that the problems experienced were due to a fault in their equipment or termination provider, both of which are probably perfectly reliable. No, a lack of a suitable quality of service (QoS) between their premises and termination provider is almost always the culprit in such circumstances.

The UK service provider industry has developed lots of solutions to the QoS problem, and things are far better now than they were just five or ten years ago when the market was in its infancy. The quality and availability of last mile circuits, particularly in metropolitan areas, has massively improved with successive advancements such as LLU, FTTC, FTTP, and cost-effective, high bandwidth Ethernet IAD type circuits. There has also been a trend towards integrated providers delivering the whole service — access circuit, Internet and telephony — as a single package. Behind the scenes, this may or may not translate technically into a full end-to-end in-house QoS-managed solution, depending on the provider and sometimes the geography of the customer. It does, however, assign commercial responsibility for delivering a fit-for-purpose solution to a single party, and this can only produce a better quality outcome for the customer.


Such an approach is certainly not universal. The US market has developed differently, for instance, and most VoIP termination providers don’t get deeply involved in provision of access circuits, instead opting to rely on decent low loss, low jitter transit or peering arrangements, and their customers’ own commodity access circuits. Often they will do a bit of automated “connection testing” as part of their signup process, however in general customers on unsuitable circuits tend to weed themselves out.  This does produce some benefits for customers, including more transparency with regard to costs, as well as a bit less lock-in as there is no commercial linkage between access and over-the-top (OTT) voice service. Today, in fact, several of those US suppliers are entering the UK market with this same business model.

Which brings us on to Net Neutrality. Whenever this subject comes up, we tend to think about its obvious effects on consumer entertainment services. The future development of the telephony industry is, however, intimately linked with this issue. Whilst the raw, per-consumer bandwidth requirements of a VoD service like Netflix is greater, the network characteristics required to deliver a reliable telephony conversation of at least ISDN quality are in some ways more onerous. Though buffering can always be used to counter horrible jitter on the underlying path for a video stream, and content caches are already used to reduce transit requirements, neither of these methods can be used to reduce the pain on a real-time voice conversation. If telephony providers can no longer get good, zero-packet loss, low jitter transit, or peering with many leading access providers, then an entire business model may very well be frozen out.

How do you think the industry will develop? Vertically integrated one-stop shops for network access and telephony, or universal OTT providers? I’d love to know your thoughts.

VoIP Week Posts:

internet mobile connectivity net neutrality ofcom Regs

Net Neutrality update

Regular readers will remember my piece for Trefor.Net last September, where I defined what the average VoIP telco wants from an open internet. I know this article had a readership of at least one, because I saw someone brandishing a print out in Ofcom. Yay me!

Anyway, things have moved on. We had Ed Richards, Ofcom’s CEO, saying they weren’t “waiting for Europe” when Philip Davies MP pressed him on the issue at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee last year (for which Philip earned a nomination as ITSPA’s Members’ Pick at the 2014 Awards) – but Europe aren’t waiting for them earlier.

Last week, the European Parliament voted in favour of the so-called “telecoms package” which includes, amongst proposals regarding a Single Market I have previously slated here and the abolition of roaming fees (which I shall slate below), proposals on Net Neutrality. Before we get too excited, this was only the first reading. The College of Commissioners is about to be disolved, along with the European Parliament for elections and who knows what political landscape will be returned to Brussels in May. It’s not likely to receive much more Parliamentary time until the end of the year now at the earliest, which makes their December 2015 implementation date seem optimistic.

The European Union’s proposals mirror, largely, what ITSPA and the VoIP community would accept (in my view) as a legislative intervention. ISPs cans till offer specialised services to protect business critical applications, or prioritise video on demand, but would not be able to do so to “the detriment of the availability or quality of internet access services” offered to other companies or service suppliers, except for traffic management measures which are “transparent, non-discriminatory and proportionate” and “not maintained longer than needed” to protect the integrity of a network.

This is a good step, but I for one, along with ITSPA colleagues and others aren’t waiting for Europe like Ofcom – watch this space for a progress report soon!

Abolition of Roaming Charges

The European logic is rather federalist; it says you should be able to use your phone for the same rates anywhere in Europe for the same price as at home. Aside from the age old rule (which also applies in next generation telecoms – distance is still a factor in signal regeneration, rateable value of fibre etc) that the further a call is conveyed the more it costs, it is wholly illogical to be able to call next door with your mobile for the same rate as calling it from Lithuania, you cannot ignore the basket effect. 26% of socioeconomic group D and E households are mobile only. The reduction of roaming profits to mobile operators leads, in part or in whole, to a waterbedding…. (I almost wrote waterboarding, as that’s what it feels like to deal with a mobile operator’s customer services sometimes)… other products and services will increase in price to compensate for the foregone margin.

So, in short, one consequence of the EU’s proposal is that those that cannot afford to go on holiday in Europe, or those businesses that don’t trade in person in Europe, shall subsidise those that do. That just doesn’t seem right to me.


broadband End User internet net neutrality

My Bandwidth is Precious (GET OFF IT!) — or — Autoplay Angst

Bandwidth usage of streaming video from in page ads uses up data bundle for those people with low data caps on their service – such as satellite based broadband

Oh joy. I keep falling over sites that autoplay videos, and some — I’m looking at you, Facebook — do not appear to have a simple option to switch off this, er..uh, ‘option’. Ignoring some of the real basics are the spurious claims that our bandwidth is being protected with such tricks as  video ceasing to play when the screen is scrolled down, or “it only works when you are connected to wifi”.

First, the video by playing has already consumed some of my precious bandwidth. You can’t just mine these bits at home, you know; data bits are a commodity that have to be bought and paid for. I will press the Play button if I want a video to play, otherwise autoplay is actually forcing me to (a) view something I probably don’t want to view, and (b) causing me to pay for the privilege of viewing that something I don’t want to view, which is on the whole, utter dross. And it is usually advertising dross at that, funded by “someone” to reach an unwilling and hence unresponsive audience. You, oh advertiser, may have money to chuck down the proverbial drain, but many of us out here who are paying to receive your video message do not!

Click Here, Lindsey

Second, what on earth has a wifi connection got to do with it all? Apart from moving the video dross onto a marginally cheaper option than mobile (i.e., by using my fibre, cable or landline-based broadband tariff instead), someone still needs to pay for the bits received. And for those on satellite dishes it makes no difference how video is configured to play, the consumer is going to be extremely cross to find their monthly data allowance munched through regardless of the pain this can cause to the unwillingly disconnected.

Business net neutrality ofcom piracy Regs

The Copyright Enforcement Enigma

When I was on a panel at the Eight Parliament and Internet Conference last year, I was approached afterwards by an academic – Monica Horten. We had a chat about a few things regulatory (notably ITSPA’s work in the field of Net Neutrality) and she mentioned she had written a book on copyright, called the Copyright Enforcement Enigma.

I eventually sourced a copy and then eventually read it (it took a while as there were quite a few on my bookcase I hadn’t read that had military hardware on the cover, you see). It’s quite an excellent romp through the beginnings of copyright, from printing presses and State censorship all the way through to recent European pronouncements on piracy and counteracting it, along with comparing and contrasting different national approaches to intellectual property.

I’ve always found that the view on copyright, intellectual property and piracy  generally correlates strongly with political views. These range from “you can’t own an idea” on one end of the scale through to basic property and contract rights saying you should have the right to protect and exploit your creations. Obviously the debate around piracy tracks the political leanings with the preferred sanction often generally correlating with that political niche’s view on criminal sanctions and it is good to read a balanced and non-partisan approach to the topic; if it raises its head again I would suggest this book as a good refresher.

In any event, the primary legislation focusing on this issue today in the UK is the Digital Economy Act 2010, which covers the obligations on Internet Service Providers to restrict access of (or even disconnect) some users or some content depending on the will of the court at the time in the face of an army of barristers from various large entertainment companies. BT and TalkTalk sought a judicial review of the legislation as it had been accelerated through Parliament as a general election had been called, but lost. Then lost the Appeal. So there we have it, Ofcom are now front and centre in managing a lot of this stuff.

There’s one out though; if you are an Internet Service Provider with less than 400,000 subscribers, as it stands, you are not in scope for much of the legislation. I am surprised that so far this gaping loophole has not been exploited; after all, surely you could charge a substantial premium for Napster Broadband? A high bandwidth service that guarantees it will never exceed 399,999 subscribers? I am sure the regulator would soon move to close the loophole, but that takes time. And on that note, I am off to find some seed capital 😉


Business net neutrality Regs

Farm regs and navigating around London

farmregs_smallI’m on the way to Laandan and just took a look on my phone downloads for the best way of getting to the Strand. I keep a downloaded tube map on the dog and bone for occasions such as this where the train connectivity is rubbish and it makes more sense to have a local copy.

Imagine my total surprise when the first doc I came across in the downloads section was a report of a farm regulation task force. Don’t ask me how I downloaded this (I can probably find out when).

It’s not that I’m not interested in farm regulations I’m not really interested in farm regulations though I imagine thats situation would change if I was ever thinking of buying a farm. Or going on holiday to a farm. In the case of the latter there could be rules about letting dogs off leashes or not bringing your own sheep. Things you’d need to know.

I’m not sure if my document covers that sort of thing though. I haven’t read it. If anyone wants a copy let me know and I’ll email it to them. I’m not going to host it on this site. People might think it was an offical farm reg doc or that I supported the conclusions of the report. I couldn’t tell you one way or another in respect of that because as I said I haven’t read it. Yet.

The fact that I have no idea how I came to download this report is an example of how easy it would be to pick up malware. I do have McAfee on the phone. I have no idea if it is effective. All it ever seems to warn me about are sms messages from WIlliam Hill which it rightly considers to be dodgy.

As far as getting to The Strand goes I’m going to take the Piccadilly Line from Kings Cross to Covent Garden and walk from there. If I didn’t have my bag I’d walk the whole way. It isn’t that far. Unless it’s chucking it down in which case I’ll take a taxi.

That’s how to get around Laandan for ya gor blimey Guvner, would you Adam and Eve it, ruby murray, frog and toad.

@Cyberdoyle’s first fibre network down on the farm here

Pete Farmer on Net Neutrality here

Rapidly becoming an agricultural blog this.

4g broadband Business mobile connectivity net neutrality

4G adoption in UK businesses

4g for business offers backup facility for superfast broadband

Why should business use 4G?

Yesterday I sat on a panel discussing 4G at the Convergence Summit South trade show in Sandown Park. The audience was largely resellers of communications services. What you would traditionally call a PBX reseller.

In terms of expectations of what 4G would do for this channel it would appear that it was very much a case of wait and see. There are some sceptics who go as far as to that “4G is just a faster version of 3G and won’t really have any specific applications and uses”.

Well I think they are wrong. 4G may well be “just a faster bearer” but it is going to open up opportunities in the communications market that weren’t there before.

For example Timico does a lot of good business selling 3G cellular back up solutions for broadband lines used to carry credit card transactional data. This type of application doesn’t need the bandwidth capabilities that 4G can offer (although 4G’s faster ping times could have a role to play here).

This type of back up application is not used nearly as much to back up ADSL lines to offices. 3G just isn’t good enough for this other than as a very basic means of accessing the internet. If you rely on your broadband for VoIP then it ain’t going to be any use over 3G, as much as anything because half the networks block VoIP (note to self to do net neutrality update post).

Now something is happening in the communications market in the UK and that is FTTC, Fibre to the Cabinet, fibre broadband, call it what you will. The superior speeds of FTTC make a huge difference to how businesses and indeed consumers use the internet. They are starting to make use of online resources like they have never before.

Witness the aggressive promotion of the Samsung Chromebook. Not only did I get 100GB of free Drive storage (ok only for two years by which time Google hopes I’m hooked enough to buy more) but I also get a free Galaxy phone. When I got my Samsung Galaxy S4 they gave me two years of free 50GB Dropbox which I am very much starting to use.

All this is driving the market towards using more and more of the cloud.

Now businesses when they start to rely more on cloud services are not going to be happy if their internet connection goes down. These things do happen, regularly.

With an increasing availability of 4G it is going to be a no-brainer for  business to have a 4G backup for its FTTC connection. The speeds, assuming you can get coverage, are pretty much identical. In fact 4G is likely to give a better uplink speed than FTTC.

4G networks do not (currently) block VoIP applications such as Skype and have latencies that are going to be able to support other real time applications. I can’t see 4G replacing FTTC in a business connection because of the cost of bandwith.

This may not apply for certain demographics in the consumer market. The only reason we have a phone line in our house is because it supports our data connection. The only people that phone it are scammers from Indian call centres and anti social pariahs trying to sell me PPI miss-selling compensation.

For a single person leaving home, saving on the cost of a phone line and broadband might well be enough to offset the additional bandwidth costs of a 4G subscription. I digress.

The upshot is that I think that the combination of FTTC and 4G is going to be a real driver for sales of mobile subscriptions and that the resellers sat in that room listening to the panel discussion should all be thinking of how they can add mobile into their portfolio. If you like think of it in terms of increasing ARPU for broadband sales.

On a similar but different note I met with EE last week for a chinwag on life, the universe and 4G. I had been pretty critical about the EE efforts to sell 4G (see post here). However soon after I wrote that post their subscriber uptake rocketed and I think they may well have now reached a million subs.

It would seem that this increase in interest is due to a combination of market reach (ie more people can now get 4G), growing awareness due to the continued marketing effort and more people coming up to contract renewal. The entry of the O2 and Vodafone into the market will also help by creating even more market awareness.

This same dynamic is going to happen in the business comms market. There will come a time where 4G is generally available, more or less, to all businesses and they will start to use it.

Obvious really. Ciao.

PS if you want to talk more about this drop me a line.

PPS I was driving past Coventry earlier this week and noticed an O2 4G signal on my phone. Hey Coventry, it’s on it’s way to you next 🙂

Business net neutrality ofcom Regs

Net Neutrality – Pete Farmer speaks

PortcullisOpen Internet & Net Neutrality – both are terms that are meaningless to many and equally emotive and commercially crucial to many others.

As with many things in life, there’s a spectrum of what this means. At one end, there’s a threat to civil liberties, commercial strategies, intellectual property and safeguarding against illegal content. At the other end, there’s (for want of a better phrase) a type of technological anarchy whereby there are ideological demands that all packets of data should be equal regardless of the content, legality, source or otherwise.

ITSPA’s members all operate in the VoIP space to some degree, so the subject of throttling (sorry, I think the marketing term is “traffic shaping”), blocking etc is both emotive and important to their businesses; so I think it is worthwhile explaining what I think the average VoIP provider means by Net Neutrality.

The first qualifier is that we always talk about legal content. What is legal and not legal varies by jurisdiction and is defined by various legislatures around the world; we would not necessarily expect any definition of an open internet to include illegal content.

We would also say that prioritisation of some services is an important

Business net neutrality Regs

Orange accused of blocking YouTube

Tweet from ISPreview caught my eye this morning on the subject of Orange allegedly blocking YouTube as part of its parental control service. The post goes on to tell us that this was apparently “an isolated incident”.

Without going in to the specific ins and outs of the Orange scenario which you can read over at ISPreview I guess that the point is when you start applying blocks on specific types of website you are going to block sites that you hadn’t meant to. The www is too complex for any filtering software to block “perfectly” (in the absence of a better turn of phrase). One wonders how many owners of websites there are out there wondering why their traffic levels have dropped.

If I were you I’d bookmark that ISPreview post so that next time you hear an MP call for blocking websites you can point them in the right direction. Note this is very different to the IWF list blocking which targets specific illegal websites.

Business net neutrality voip

Successful @Amdocs press/analyst dinner discussing threat from OTT services at the Gherkin

Trefor Davies at a window on the 38th floor of the Gherkin

I was fortunate enough to be invited by Amdocs to one of their periodic Press/Analyst dinners. These are great evenings where the wine and conversation flows, all on subjects relating to communications and technology.

Last night’s was at the Gherkin, or St Mary Axe as the building is formally known. The views from the top are absolutely terrific and because I’m that kind of guy I’ve posted a video so that you can share the experience.

As for the dinner, we discussed the likely effect of Over The Top services on the incumbent telco base.  This is a fairly large subject. It encompasses net neutrality and ownership of the customer with the truly Damaclean threat of disaster and destruction hanging over the telcos. That’s if they aren’t nimble that is.

I suspect that there will be room for a number of business models and a specific differentiation between services provided for consumers and businesses.

This subject merits a longer post so for the moment I’ll just leave you with the video. Thanks again to Amdocs for a great evening. They are doing a good job.

PS to the security people at the Gherkin – I have just found my pass – sorry. I’ll bring it back the next time I come.

Business internet mobile connectivity net neutrality

Broadband Stakeholders Group Open Internet Code of Practice

The Broadband Stakeholders Group today released an “Open Internet Code of Practice”. This is a voluntary CoP promoting net neutrality.


  • users should be able to access all legal content
  • there should be no discrimination against content providers on the basis of commercial rivalry; and
  • traffic management policies should be clear and transparent

I’m not going to delve into the detail of the BSG announcement which is available here. What I am going to do is name the current signatories who are all in the main consumer service providers:

  • BE, BT, BskyB, KCOM, O2, Plusnet, TalkTalk, Tesco Mobile, Three

The significance of this list is in who is not on it, particularly the mobile operators. You can work out who they are yourselves. Some of them are already known to block the use of Over The Top VoIP services (eg Timico’s own VoIP, Skype et al) on their mobile networks which of course goes against the principles of the CoP being announced today.

Whatever their reasons for not signing these mobile networks will have to change their positioning as 4G gets rolled out. The bandwidth requirement for VoIP  services will be relatively small compared with that required for general use on 4G networks so the “lack of capacity” argument should not work.

4G is a fairly major inflection point for mobile networks. I don’t have any forecasts but during the life of the 4G (LTE) technology we should see the mobile business model transition from being minutes driven to data driven.

I suspect that growth in “data bundle” income may not offset any reduction in voice minutes revenues so the mobile operators are going to have to work out how to find cash from elsewhere. This may come from advertising, financial micro payments, device and personal security and I’m sure many more that I haven’t thought of.

For the moment I’ll leave you to figure out for yourselves why the non-signatories have not stepped up to the plate. I can’t see how they can stay away for too long. It isn’t the actual signature but the principle of how they treat their customers who will end up voting with their feet.

Business mobile connectivity net neutrality ofcom voip

@EdVaizey reschedules #NetNeutrality Roundtable and ITSPA publishes detailed evidence on Mobile Network Operator bad practice

A Ministerial Roundtable on Net Neutrality had been scheduled for 24th January (ie yesterday) with  Internet Minister Ed Vaizey and the major fixed and mobile operators due to attend. EV is expecting industry to produce a voluntary code of practice in respect of Net Neutrality. In the run up to the meeting and following individual discussions with some of the intended participants the Minister has apparently been unhappy with progress. The Round Table has been postponed until 28th March to allow time for further industry discussion.

Net Neutrality is a very emotional subject. By and large in my view it is something that has been creating more noise than the issue has perhaps merited but I can understand people’s concerns. The issue of transparency is in particular an important one

Business net neutrality Regs

EU official position on Net Neutrality

You will of course all have been following the progress of the EU Telecommunications Council on the subject of Net Neutrality. In case you missed  it the EUTC published its conclusions yesterday.

In the interest of ensuring you have enough spare time this afternoon to go about your day job (it’s a full time occupation for a team of people to follow this stuff) I have summarised a few of the key messages here.

  • The Council notes that some stakeholders are worried about transparency, discriminatory forms of traffic management and network congestion. It likes the idea of net neutrality but it also highlights the need to safeguard ISPs’ business models and to allow innovative business models to serve the needs of the market.
End User net neutrality phones piracy

BBC iPlayer on iPad and Android – high quality – blessing or bandwidthbuster & what about the TV license? :)

iPlayer running on iPad and Adnroid HTC Desire HD

The twitterstream was full of references to the new iPlayer App for iPad and Android this morning so I naturally dived in and downloaded. I have to say the experience is top quality on both. The colours are great and the TV is very watchable on both size screens.

What really came into my mind though was not the fact that I now had a new app on my devices but the fact that this was yet another driver for bandwidth use and also the question of the TV license.

Cisco internet growth forecast

The chart on the right is Cisco’s growth forecast for internet bandwidth use – a 4x growth between 2009 and 2014. Much of this as you can see is driven by video. The Y axis legend is in ExaBytes/Month!

A one of the World’s best content provider the BBC really is one of the drivers of this (Ok YouTube et al are also contributors) and making iPlayer easier to access on more and more devices adds to the proliferation. Of course this also adds to the pressures on ISP networks and fuels the NetNeutrality debate butthat is not for this post. Grown up ISPs will manage their way through.

The debate about the TV License fee is however another issue. The BBC has said that it is not going after non license payers watching using iPlayer online:

“Well, the number of homes that currently have no television licence, but that do have broadband subscription is currently estimated to be infinitesimally small. The chances are if you want to watch BBC TV programmes via catch-up over the web, you are also watching some BBC programmes at other times, live or time-shifted, via a TV set, and will already have a TV licence. ”

This situation will possibly change quite quickly over the next few years.

You only need a license if you are watching live TV which the BBC is now promoting using the iPlayer App. My question is whether the BBC is able to identify online users? The chances are they will only have an IP address to go at which is going to raise the same issues as we currently see with the Digital Economy Act and the RightsHolder industries (of which the BBC is a member). Unless that is the BBC has some spyware embedded in its iPlayer App that somehow records data on who is using it – via  iTunes username perhaps?!

The other notweworthy point is that apps like this are also fuelling the demand for newer faster smart phones. The iPlayer App for Android needs a fast processor to run Flash. It will inevitably evolve towards more and more HD content which will use more and more bandwdth and need faster and faster processors etc etc etc.

We do live in interesting times. BBC statement on iPlayer here.  BBC position on TV License for online streaming here. Header photo (click to see more) is of iPlayer App running on both iPad and HTC Desire HD (Android).

More TV related stuff:

Sony 4K Ultra HD TV

TV detector vans – the truth

Boring TV & better things to do.

Business net neutrality ofcom Regs

BT Wholesale Content Connect – Net Neutrality or Competition Law issue? #DEAPPG #NetNeutrality

Yesterday’s BT announcement regarding Wholesale Content Connect, the Content Delivery product caused some consternation amongst the NetNeutrality fraternity. The fuss is that this product potentially allows ISPs to sell guaranteed delivery of content (mainly video) to online Content Providers (CP) eg YouTube et al.

I would be surprised if this product takes off.

Firstly it would have to be cheaper than what an ISP is currently paying BT for bandwidth otherwise it would be cheaper for the ISP to just buy more bandwidth to accommodate the video. I am waiting for info on the pricing but my gut feel tells me it will be more expensive – BT’s selling point is quality here.

Secondly I haven’t seen a problem where video quality sucks other than on low bandwidth connections and this product would not fix that (silk purse/sow’s ear). Admittedly my own experience is of business broadband rather than consumer but I suspect the point remains. This position could well change of course as more and more people watch video online.

BT Wholesale Content Connect (WCC) is a product that inserts the “paid for” content into the network near to the end user, avoiding the ISPs own backhaul connection. There are three levels – basic, standard and premium. Only basic has been launched.

Basic does use the ISPs own backhaul as opposed to inserting the content after this point. Standard and premium will be available to the few ISPs that use PTA to connect to the network (as opposed to L2TP – sorry for the acronyms) and operate their own backhaul as opposed to BTW’s shared WBMC service.

This might make sense commercially as I can’t see a CP striking agreements with hundreds of ISPs for what might be a very low number of video streams. An aggregator might – is BT going up against the likes of Akamai and Limelight – global players? In which case I still need to understand the benefit to the ISP? I guess where I am coming to is that I can’t see CPs today doing a deal with anyone here. This might change if people are willing to pay more for premium content – eg HD or 3D HD.

The other point is that there are already Content Delivery Networks out there so this is just another one. Existing CDNs inject content into an ISP’s core network as a cheaper way for both the ISP and content providers of delivering the content than via internet transit. BT and their ISP partners will have to sell BTWCC as a better overall deal but I can’t see content providers paying for bandwidth that is currently paid for by the ISP. Moreover CDNs operate internationally and not just in a single country! Why would a Content Provider want to deal with a CDN that only operated in the UK?

Now correct me if I’m wrong but I think that there is only one ISP in the UK that uses PTA – BT Retail (BTR) or two if you want to include BT Plus Net. There are technical reasons why ISPs don’t use PTA, not the least of which is that it doesn’t currently support IPv6 or L2TP forwarding.

In the absence of there being an obvious business model for the ISP what other motives might there be for the launch of the WCC product? It could be that BT is lining up BT Retail to offer a product that is unavailable to the rest of the market even though to Ofcom’s eyes it is being made available as a product through BTW. This might offer BTR a competitive advantage over other major consumer ISPs in being able to provide a guaranteed video product.

From a cost perspective it wouldn’t matter how much BTW charged BTR for this because it would all be recovered at the group level. I’m not saying that this is the motive but it could be one.

Coming back to the opening paragraph there is a scenario that this isn’t a NetNeutrality issue at all but a UK competition law issue. Time will tell – a real business model might appear.

I would say that from a Net Neutrality perspective this is all a fuss over nothing and the advice to politicians is still to sit on the fence. Ofcom might want to consider taking a microscope to the product though, just to be on the safe side. It certainly could add to the argument in favour of breaking up BT into its components. As far as ISPs go those of us who aren’t consumer players aren’t yet involved in the debate. As far as BT goes its cards are currently right up against its chest so who knows whether WCC, as advertised, is a good business or not.

Link to BT video

Sorry about all the acronyms. If they mean nothing to you I would just brush over them and go for the general gist.

Business net neutrality Regs

FCC ruling on NetNeutrality has lessons for UK – a consumer,content provider and network operator perspective #deappg #netneutrality

One of the things that makes working at an ISP stimulating is the wonderful complexity of the engine that keeps the internet running. This complexity is very well mirrored in the debate surrounding NetNeutrality.

I’m a bit of a mixed up kid when it comes to NetNeutrality. I am at once a consumer, a content provider (this blog plus my non-work website) and a network operator.

Yesterday in the USA the FCC published a set of rules on the subject. A great deal has already been said on the pronouncement, which was based on a 3-2 majority ruling by the committee. I’m not normally big on discussing things going on in the USA but this one is worth a mention.

Here are the basic elements of the ruling:

Rule 1: Transparency
A person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service shall publicly disclose accurate information regarding the network management practices, performance, and commercial terms of its broadband Internet access services sufficient for consumers to make informed choices regarding use of such services and for content, application, service, and device providers to develop, market, and maintain Internet offerings.

None of my personas have a problem with this.

Business net neutrality Regs

Comcast Level 3 Netflix dispute update – calls made on US Government to regulate peering #deappg

Last week I posted on the Level3 Comcast Netflix dispute.  This is  where, despite an existing peering arrangement, cable operator Comcast wants to charge Level 3 for carrying Netflix traffic over its network to Comcast customers (hope you followed that one).

Calls have now been made by New America Foundation, Media Access Project and Free Press for the US Authorities to investigate this deal and to consider taking a regulatory position in respect of how such network deals are constructed.

The developing issue is that Comcast, with it’s 16 million cable customers is also a provider of content and that it has notionally been losing customers to alt content provider Netflix. By charging Level 3 additional costs for providing cable customers with access to Netflix content the assertion is that Comcast is potentially harming the market and breaking (unwritten)  net neutrality rules.

I’m not commenting here – just reporting.  Comcast is pointing to significant cost increases associated with carrying Netflix traffic. This is is going to be an interesting one to follow and the ultimate outcome could well represent a significant milestone in the history of the internet.

Business Cloud internet net neutrality Regs

Netflix, Comcast, Level 3 and Net Neutrality #deappg @edvaizey

The Net Neutrality debate in full swing: Comcast wants to charge Level 3 for the delivery of the Netflix content over its network because such content represents a disproportionately high amount of traffic. What gives?

There’s a very interesting row going on over the pond concerning who pays for network access that has a useful contribution to the Net Neutrality debate in the UK. I am a late arrival here but it is certainly worth recording.

In a nutshell US video streaming provider Netflix recently awarded its content delivery contract to global network operator Level 3. A great many of Netflix customers use Comcast as their ISP. Comcast and Level 3 have a peering agreement whereby they carry each other’s traffic free of charge.

Comcast now wants to charge Level 3 for the delivery of the content over its network because Netflix represents a disproportionately high amount of traffic.

Level 3 is trying to get the US Authorities involved with a Net Neutrality angle. Comcast does have a fair point to make because the Level3/Netflix traffic amounts to 27 x 10Gbit network ports – 2 times its existing traffic levels and 5 x the level of traffic that Comcast sends to Level 3.

This is a beauty and mirrors public conversations going on in the UK including Ed Vaizey’s recent announcement that ISPs should be left to sort out their own commercial arrangements for content delivery – an announcement that subsequently with retrospective caveats (clarifications?!) by the Minister.

I’m not going to provide any links to other sources here – a Google search for “netflix level 3” yields 585,000 results. This could provide us with a precedent that will influence other commercial discussions and, no doubt public debate in the UK.

End User net neutrality online safety Regs

MP Claire Perry calls for opt in system to regulate child access to internet porn @claire4devizes

The protection of children whilst using the internet is a highly emotive subject. There can be few who think it a bad idea. I have 4 kids who are heavy internet users. I don’t want them to come to any harm.

New MP for Devizes, Claire Perry, last week called for a change in regulations to require all UK-based Internet Service Providers to restrict universal access to pornographic content by implementing an opt-in system that requires verification that a user is over 18 for access to such material.

From a philosophical standpoint the fundamental principles of what Claire Perry wants are 90% ok – the 10% that are not ok being the right to privacy of people who might want to legally surf online porn but are not inclined to want to reveal their identity in order to do so. The problems come from the practicality of what is being asked for.

Website filtering is governed typically by the inclusion of a blacklist somewhere in the ISP network. User requests to access websites are compared with the blacklist and if the site is proscribed then access is denied. In the same way if an opt in is required it would happen at this stage. Parental controls usually involve a password being used to allow or deny the access.

Business Cloud net neutrality ofcom Regs

Net Neutrality: An ISP View

Net Neutrality and whether the government should regulate ISPs to guarantee an open and fair internet for all has become a trending topic. As an ISP my natural inclination is to say that there should be no regulation. A government’s job is to regulate only where necessary. ISPs are easy targets because the whole world is moving its operations online and ISPs are the conduit to that world. We are constantly warding off regulation.

Ofcom has said that there is not enough evidence for them to come up with any proposals for regulation in this space.

At the same time ISPs, in particular mobile ISPs have said that in order to be able to invest in the growth of their network infrastructure they need to be able to charge premium rates for premium services. The nature of these services has yet to be determined, at least publicly. Mobile network operators are expecting a hundred fold increase in bandwidth demand over the next three years and in their minds they need somehow to be able to pay for this capacity. O2 has been very vocal about this.

Apps Business net neutrality piracy Regs

ISPA Conference coming up on Wednesday 1st December

It’s one of the busiest times of year for people in the internet game. Customers you put on now have the greatest effect on next year’s bottom line because they will be with you for the full 12 months.

It has also never been a busier time to be in this industry. What with the world of technology moving into the clouds and blind political wizards waving dangerous wands from ivory towers high above those same clouds.

2011 promises to be a watershed for ISPs. We should find out whether we really will be saddled with the Digital Economy Act and other leaden weights such as the Intercept Modernisation Program (Big Brother is watching you). New business models will have to come to the fore – potentially the only way to get “superfast “ broadband to the “Final Third”. Net neutrality will become a hot topic for discussion as carriers try and find ways of keeping afloat amid the wave of content flooding homes and businesses around the land.

This almost feels like an end of year speech but it isn’t. It is an advert for the Annual ISPA Conference. If you are in a line of business associated with the internet this is one worth taking the time out to attend. It is a meeting point for everyone in the business and very definately worth coming.

Check out the details here.

Business net neutrality ofcom Regs surveillance & privacy

Net Neutrality debate in Westminster – surprise vote turnaround

portcullisIn Westminster yesterday BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones chaired a Net Neutrality debate on a motion entitled:

“That this House agrees that traffic management is essential for the running of modern networks and that improved and enforceable transparency and market competition will ensure that consumers are protected from potentially negative effects.”

In an initial vote 50% of those present were in favour of the motion with perhaps 10 – 15% against but there was a twist.