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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

What is net neutrality? Hot your breath on complaining to Ofcom

What is net neutrality? - Ofcom: "You can also complain to Ofcom. We cannot process or take action over individual complaints but we use complaints data to help us identify cases where enforcement action may be required." 'via Blog this'

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Translation of key paragraphs NRA decision on net neutrality – Bits of Freedom

Translation of key paragraphs NRA decision on net neutrality – Bits of Freedom: "For the ACM, these conditions do not form substantial entry barriers.

The first requirement is, for the ACM, not an unreasonable condition, because the music streaming service would otherwise not be consumable by other end-users at all.

The technical condition with regard to the IP address is, for the ACM, not an unreasonable condition either because it allows T-Mobile to discern between internet traffic that should be zero-rated and internet traffic that should not be zero-rated.

This condition, for the ACM, does not yield a substantive restriction." 'via Blog this'

Dutch NRA: T-Mobile may continue to violate net neutrality – Bits of Freedom

Dutch NRA: T-Mobile may continue to violate net neutrality – Bits of Freedom: "The ACM states in its decision that T-Mobile does not discriminate against music services, “as long as they comply with the conditions that T-Mobile imposes”.

Well, duh, that's exactly the problem! T-Mobile is imposing all kinds of conditions upon these music services and therefore decides which ones are entitled to preferential treatment. For example, if a music service doesn't want T-Mobile to use its logo, they're out of luck. If the music service isn't able or willing to structure its systems to the whims of T-Mobile, they're left out in the cold.

The ACM also thinks that your freedom or the freedom of the music service provider isn't being constrained. That's hardly surprising when you realize that the ACM seems to have no regard for the impact of services like T-Mobile's Data-free Music on the innovative nature of the internet. One of the powerful properties of the internet is precisely that every computer, and therefore every service and user, is as easy to reach as any other.

A service like T-Mobile's flies in the face of that idea by giving some services preferential treatment."'via Blog this'

Friday, October 13, 2017

Press release - BEREC moves forward on future monitoring of net neutrality issues

Press release - BEREC moves forward on future monitoring of mobile and net neutrality issues and publishes a statement on NRAs competencies: "In its continuous effort to safeguard an open environment throughout Europe, BEREC has decided to develop an opt-in measurement tool. The aim is to help NRAs and end-users to measure the quality of fixed or mobile internet access services and detect potential illegal traffic management practices such as blocking or throttling of specific applications.

A tender will be developed in the coming months with the objective to launch in the first quarter of 2018.

A report on specifications for such tools has also been approved for publication.

 At the Plenary, BEREC also approved the NN Regulatory assessment methodology. The work on document was built on regulatory best practices and previous BEREC guidance as regards the internet access service quality monitoring. The methodology is developed to assist NRAs in the implementation of the BEREC Net Neutrality Guidelines.

 To explain the past and future role of BEREC in the implementation of Net neutrality rules, BEREC launches today a video.

 Open internet:

BEREC analyses Impact of content markets and devices on fixed and mobile ECS market

In line with this key objective to safeguard an open environment, BEREC has adopted a draft BEREC report on Impact of content markets and devices on fixed and mobile ECS market that summarises approaches taken by NRAs and competition authorities to address potential competition concerns in this area. BEREC adopted the report for public consultation, inviting the stakeholders to provide their valuable inputs. The public consultation on the preliminary report will run from 11 October to 8 November 2017." 'via Blog this'

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The price of free: why there's no digital free lunch for zero rating or messaging

I've been thinking recently about the re-regulatory moves both in wider market analysis and narrowly in platform regulation (inspired by the un-improvable if somewhat justifiable morally panicked Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017).
I also recently gave many newspaper interviews on a trip to Bogota about why regulators (and politicians) find it so difficult to refuse consumers a free lunch when offered it via zero rating. The unintended side effect is that many poorer consumers, especially in developing markets, get their "news" via snippets on Facebook, not clicking through due to data charges to the hideously bloatware-infected news sites themselves. Not only does this prevent payment for journalism, but more importantly it has the effect of inflating the importance of fake news to the economically (well, digitally) disenfranchised. Digital colonialism, in fact.
More broadly, the 'hipster antitrust' movement (if such it is) has addressed the manifest and myriad failings of the information market, notably the huge market power of such behemoths as Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft. The organised lobbying and policy development resistance of the giants to the charges laid are impressively well marshalled intellectually.
The most obvious example of predation by these giants, and regulators' failure to respond appropriately, has been that of Facebook's merger with WhatsApp. Not coincidentally, these are the exact companies to most benefit from the sponsoring of a select few social media apps by mobile operators keen to turn their users on to some data use where uncapped plans are beyond the reach of users in developing countries. The enabler for that Facebook control over zero rated content has been Wikipedia, an apparently 'public service' media organisation which may be non-profit but is run by arch-libertarian Jimmy Wales. The use of Wikipedia to "zero wash" the business model of Facebook has come to prominence as part of the zero rating debate.
Facebook owns WhatsApp, which is the world's most popular free instant messaging app, in part because it has no advertising nor secondary or premium models. Therefore it has no revenues and no business plan at all. Facebook also owns the second most globally popular IM app, FBK Messenger. Thus its purchase of WhatsApp can only be seen as a defensive vertical and horizontal merger of social networking platform with downstream rival IM app. Absurdly the merger was approved subject to it making Facebook no money - because user data from WhatsApp was to be fenced off from Facebook's advertising business. When Facebook blatantly breached these merger terms in 2016, the EC promised ot take action to prevent that. WhatsApp is thus a pure value destruction play - FBK stating "we can't make money but nor can anyone else from IM". Try leveraging into social medfia networks from that, start-ups!

BEREC publishes study on Net Neutrality regulation in Chile, India and USA

BEREC publishes study on Net Neutrality regulation in Chile, India and USA: "The report shows that Quality of service (QoS) clearly has an impact on net neutrality. Regulators in the markets analysed are actively monitoring QoS, but have chosen to rely on a range of different methods to monitor net neutrality.

 For instance, the important role of the complaint systems in the USA and Chile in particular means that enforcement in these two countries has a primarily ex-post character (in contrast to the EU, where Regulation 2015/2120 requires NRAs to monitor proactively, on an ex-ante basis). Moreover, in some regulatory regimes, existing mechanisms and powers to deal with anti-competitive behaviour are preferred to tackle non-neutral practices, which provide regulators with future discretion.

 Third-party organisations can also provide useful complements to the NRAs, in terms of expertise and capacity building in measurement systems suitable for the detection of certain types of net-neutrality violations.

 In the end, the report demonstrates that many different tools are available to detect practices which may violate net neutrality (either ex ante or ex post), although no single tool would be able to provide a comprehensive solution.

Given the obligation in the EU/EEA upon NRAs to actively monitor non-neutral practices themselves, multiple tools or methods are likely to be required, thus calling for the development of a toolkit that can grow over time as new risks are identified and as new forms of abuse are encountered." 'via Blog this'

Telecoms Policy review of 'Net Neutrality'

Review now online (paywall suggests it's worth more than the book!), arguing that:
"This volume represents a truly comprehensive analysis of network neutrality up until June 2016. The meticulous research and referencing means that the text is a complete description at that date and provides the perfect foundation for additional work.
The writing style of the author is readily accessible and exceptionally readable. This is important for a text to have an audience beyond academia. In particular, the description in Chapter 4 of the way in which the European Union, in its various forms, created ‘a messy compromise’ law was fascinating. This chapter provides a fabulous case study in European Union regulatory decision making."
Thanks to the editors and Rob Nicholls for those kind words!