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Monday, July 24, 2017

SNL: Former BT CTO: 5G not 'as transformative as people like to think'

SNL: Q&A: Former BT CTO: 5G not 'as transformative as people like to think': "The reality is, I don't think 5G is quite as transformative as people like to think. For operators to make a success of 5G, they will need 10 times more towers than they've already got — and this will be a stretch.

Less than 5% of all internet and digital connection is through 3G and 4G. Meanwhile, approximately 55% of all digital connections on mobile devices use Wi-Fi and the rest are on fixed line.

Will 5G change that? I think it is very unlikely.

Will 5G be a big player in the internet of things? Again, very unlikely. It is interesting that all of the mobile companies will offer me Wi-Fi access to their networks in order to encourage me not to use their 4G because they do not have the capacity. So there are a number of impediments." 'via Blog this'

Friday, July 21, 2017

Verizon admits to throttling video in apparent violation of net neutrality - The Verge

Verizon admits to throttling video in apparent violation of net neutrality - The Verge: "Yesterday, we reported that Verizon Wireless appeared to be throttling Netflix traffic, — and today, the company seems to have come clean. In a statement provided to Ars Technica and The Verge, Verizon implicitly admitted to capping the traffic, blaming the issue on a temporary video optimization test.

 “We've been doing network testing over the past few days to optimize the performance of video applications on our network," a Verizon Wireless spokesperson said. “The testing should be completed shortly. The customer video experience was not affected.”" 'via Blog this'

Friday, July 07, 2017

UK mobile carrier copies T-Mobile's Binge On scheme, nearly down to the name - The Verge

UK mobile carrier copies T-Mobile's Binge On scheme, nearly down to the name - The Verge: "A spokesperson from Three responded to The Verge about whether the new policy violates EU net neutrality and its competitiveness guideline:

 “No, we are compliant with regulation. Neither the EU net neutrality regulations nor the Berec guidelines prohibit the zero rating of services. Go Binge does not block content and it does not prioritise or restrict traffic. We are promoting customer choice: customers can opt out of the service if they choose to do so. We are not compelling consumers to participate and we are not charging them anything if they do so. This is an innovative product which adds to a number of zero-rated agreements in place across the industry.”

Virgin Mobile launched a similar program last year in which it zero-rates Facebook apps, like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger." 'via Blog this'

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Twitter Joins Net Neutrality Protest | Multichannel

Twitter Joins Net Neutrality Protest | Multichannel: "Fight for the Future pointed Thursday to a Morning Consult/Politico poll finding a majority of respondents support prohibiting blocking and throttling and paid prioritization.
ISPs have long said they can live with no blocking or throttling, though they are somewhat less emphatic about no prioritizing. What they say they can't live with, or certainly don't want to, is what they argue are Title II regs meant for last-century telephone service applied to this century broadband." 'via Blog this'

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Brazilians Rebel Against Data Caps. The Rest of the World Should, Too. - Morning Consult

Brazilians Rebel Against Data Caps. The Rest of the World Should, Too. - Morning Consult: "The economic structure of this market suggests ISPs may be implementing data caps all over the world. It’s not surprising to learn that almost 2 million Brazilians signed a petition against data caps in 2016, and that 600,000 said “yes,” in an online poll conducted by the Senate, to a bill that creates a new right of “internet access without data caps.” Consumers know that data caps are not for their benefit, and that the technical arguments sustained by the ISPs are flawed.

 The Brazilian Congress is about to change the famous “Marco Civil da Internet” — a federal law that became known as the “Constitution for the use of Internet” — in order to establish a new right: the right to connect at home without data caps imposed by ISPs. This could be a new type of “digital right” for the 21st century." 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Finnish mobile operators ask to opt out of free EU-roaming rules due to #netneutrality Yle Uutiset | yle.fi

Finnish mobile network operators ask to opt out of free EU-roaming rules | Yle Uutiset | yle.fi: "Finnish operators say there are far more mobile customers from Finland who travel around Europe and use the internet - as opposed to the other way around - making it a lopsided deal.

Another hurdle facing local operators is that subscribers in Finland are used to having unlimited, uncapped data, while operators in many other countries charge customers based on how much data is actually used, down to the megabyte.

Having access to unlimited data, subscribers from Finland have become accustomed to using a lot of it." 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Everyone Should Be Getting Wikipedia for Free - Reason.com

Everyone Should Be Getting Wikipedia for Free - Reason.com: "The lack of clarity about zero-rating could change overnight, however, and it wouldn't require any new laws, any new regulations, any new quasi-formal inquiries from the commissioners—or even Pai's proposed rollback of the 2015 regulatory order. All it would take would be for Pai to call openly (in speeches or interviews, say, or other public appearances) and frequently for internet providers to experiment with adding zero-rated public information to their offerings." 'via Blog this'

Net neutrality: Amazon among top internet firms planning day of action: Guardian

Net neutrality: Amazon among top internet firms planning day of action | Technology | The Guardian: "Amazon, Etsy, Kickstarter, Mozilla and Vimeo all intend to hold a day of protest on 12 July in opposition to plans by Donald Trump’s newly appointed telecoms regulator to neuter tough 2015 rules meant to protect “net neutrality” – the concept that all traffic should be equal online." 'via Blog this'

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Netflix is stepping back from the fight for net neutrality - CNET

Netflix is stepping back from the fight for net neutrality - CNET: "Hastings said Netflix is still supportive of other companies fighting against the net neutrality rollback— and that in a sense, it's their turn to do so.

Plus, all that battling might be for naught.

"I think Trump's FCC is going to unwind the rules no matter what happens," Hastings said. He also expressed some optimism that perhaps internet providers will continue to play fair, even if there are no longer regulations in place. " 'via Blog this'

French regulator (chair of BEREC) extends research to devices & OS

Can't repost but this slide deck is both excellent and very provocative for other BEREC members trying to work out what to do. ARCEP states:
"As the guarantor of net neutrality, Arcep believes that attention must also be paid to end-user devices and their operating systems. Arcep believes that impediments to a fully open internet may derive from factors that are not covered by the Open internet regulation. Among these factors, Arcep has specifically identified devices and their operating systems (OS), whose properties end users are not necessarily in a position to fully assess. After a first round of work and interviews, Arcep has mapped out its initial findings on impediments to an open internet that derive from devices. The map identifies four main types of restriction: those resulting from the characteristics of the device being used (physical fixed or mobile device), those that can be attributed to software developments, those resulting from operating systems' and app stores' editorial policies and, lastly, those resulting from device suppliers' business models.
The published report is the first milestone in an action plan devoted to end-user devices and their operating systems With the publication of this report on end-user devices and their influence on internet openness, Arcep marks a first milestone in the "open devices" action plan announced in 2016 in the report that concluded its strategic review. The purpose of map that Arcep has drawn is to serve as the starting point for future dialogue with stakeholders. Players are thus being asked for their feedback on these initial findings, but also to share their views on how this issue will evolve over time, using the following e-mail address: terminaux@arcep.fr.
Work on this topic will continue, through deeper analysis of the restrictions and their justification. Arcep intends to investigate the actions that may need to be taken, notably regarding the fluidity of end-user device markets, to ensure a truly open internet. This open approach, which should result in a more detailed report and a dedicated event in early 2018, will be coordinated by "Devices" project leader, Jennifer Siroteau."

Monday, May 29, 2017

TeleFrieden: Summary of the FCC's Restoring Internet Freedom NPRM

TeleFrieden: Summary of the FCC's Restoring Internet Freedom NPRM: Thanks Rob! "The FCC now proposes to apply an information service regulatory classification to broadband Internet access and to treat wireless service as private carriage rather than the existing commercial designation established by Congress. The Commission heavily relies on a questionable conclusion that common carriage regulation stifles investment, innovation and employment in the Internet ecosystem.

While offering a passing reference to contrary studies, the FCC opts to accept unconditionally the conclusion in one study sponsored by incumbent carriers that existing regulation imposed substantial marketplace harms." 'via Blog this'

Sunday, May 28, 2017

These companies spend the most money to kill net neutrality

These companies spend the most money to kill net neutrality: "The top pro-neutrality organizations filed 176 lobbying reports mentioning net neutrality. But the top anti-neutrality organizations far outpaced them, filing 472 reports that mentioned net neutrality. That’s a 2.7-to-1 ratio.

 When we arrange the top-20 net neutrality lobbying organizations by amount of reports on the issue (Figure 1), the disparity is clear. The five most active organizations on the issue since 2005—Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and the National Music Publishers Association—are all opposed to neutrality. Verizon and AT&T are heads and shoulders above everyone else, each with an estimated 119 reports mentioning net neutrality." 'via Blog this'

Saturday, May 27, 2017

BEREC will run three public consultations from 7 June till 5 July 2017

BEREC will run three public consultations from 7 June till 5 July 2017: "On 7 June, in Brussels, during the Public debriefing BEREC will launch three public consultations on the following documents: BEREC Medium-term strategy 2018-2020, Internet protocol interconnection practices in the context of Net Neutrality and BEREC regulatory methodology for quality of service assessment for the implementation of Net Neutrality provisions. All the public consultations will run for four consecutive weeks, and will end on 5 July 2017." 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

How One Little Cable Company Exposed Telecom’s Achilles’ Heel

How One Little Cable Company Exposed Telecom’s Achilles’ Heel: "So don’t fixate on “net neutrality.” Political talk about high-speed internet access in America is chock full of words like that that have been entirely untethered from their their meanings and history. Even though the state of internet access is an issue that touches the bank accounts and opportunities of hundreds of millions of Americans and gazillions of businesses, very few people understand what’s actually going on. Now you are among them." 'via Blog this'

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Net Neutrality Violations: A Brief History | Free Press

Net Neutrality Violations: A Brief History | Free Press: "In reality, many providers both in the United States and abroad have violated the principles of Net Neutrality — and they plan to continue doing so in the future.

This history of abuse revealed a problem that the FCC’s 2015 Net Neutrality protections solved. Those rules are now under threat" 'via Blog this'

Throttling of websites and online services might help customers, FCC says | Ars Technica

Throttling of websites and online services might help customers, FCC says | Ars Technica: "The NPRM also suggests that customers are being harmed by the ban on ISPs charging websites and other online services for faster access to consumers. "Is there a risk that banning paid prioritization suppresses pro-competitive activity?" the NPRM asks. "For example, could allowing paid prioritization give Internet service providers a supplemental revenue stream that would enable them to offer lower-priced broadband Internet access service to end-users?"

 The NPRM asks whether paid prioritization could "enable certain critical information, such as consumers’ health care vital signs that are being monitored remotely, to be transmitted more efficiently or reliably." But the document fails to mention that the existing rules have an exception that lets ISPs sell isolated network capacity for telemedicine services.

 The FCC also asks whether it should keep rules that require ISPs to make greater disclosures about hidden fees and data caps. The FCC seems to think the broadband market is so competitive that this isn't necessary. "We seek comment on whether the additional reporting obligations from that rule remains necessary in today’s competitive broadband marketplace," the NPRM says. Pai has already exempted ISPs with 250,000 or fewer subscribers from these rules.

 An FCC official acknowledged that it's highly likely the commission will be sued after it makes changes to net neutrality rules, but noted that courts have generally deferred to the FCC on whether Internet providers should or should not be classified as common carriers." 'via Blog this'

Net neutrality going down in flames as US FCC votes to kill Title II rules | Ars Technica UK

Net neutrality going down in flames as US FCC votes to kill Title II rules | Ars Technica UK: "The US Federal Communications Commission voted 2-1 today (18 May) to start the process of eliminating net neutrality rules and the classification of home and mobile Internet service providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act.

 The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposes eliminating the Title II classification and seeks comment on what, if anything, should replace the current net neutrality rules. But Chairman Ajit Pai is making no promises about reinstating the two-year-old net neutrality rules that forbid ISPs from blocking or throttling lawful Internet content or prioritizing content in exchange for payment. Pai's proposal argues that throttling websites and applications might somehow help Internet users.

The FCC plans to take comments on its plan until August 16 (the docket is available here) and then make a final decision sometime after that." 'via Blog this'

Friday, May 12, 2017

AT&T could be punished for unlimited data throttling after all | Ars Technica

AT&T could be punished for unlimited data throttling after all | Ars Technica: "But FTC enforcement isn't a perfect substitute for the FCC. As the FCC is the expert agency for telecommunications and can create specific rules to protect telecom customers, the FTC isn't able to create hard-and-fast rules that ISPs must follow. The FTC can prevent deceptive or unfair practices, but this depends in large part on ISPs promising not to do bad things. If companies make promises in their terms of service and then fail to deliver, the FTC can step in.

 "We are a very hard-working agency, but we’re not a very big agency," FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny recently told Ars. "The FTC doesn't have a lot of expertise in network engineering. We're not the FCC in that regard." The FTC receives "millions of consumer complaints every year" across all industries under its jurisdiction, and "we can’t act on every single complaint."" 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Netherlands Zero Rating Case 20 April

ROT 17/468, ROT 17/1160 and ROT 17/1932 T-Mobile v. Ziggo BV , Ziggo Services BV , Vodafone Libertel BV
Google Translate:  ACM has ordered T-Mobile to discontinue the provision and execution of the Data Free Music service under forfeiture of a penalty payment. At the hearing it appears that VodafoneZiggo disagrees with the far-reaching suspension by ACM of the burden during a possible preliminary question. The objection lodged at the sitting - as part of the plea note - indicates that the court should have been forwarded within the meaning of Article 7: 1a, 6th of the Awb. ACM takes the view that zero rating is contrary to Article 3, second and third paragraphs, of the Network Neutrality Regulation and with Article 7.4a, third paragraph, of the Tw. The court is of the opinion that the neutrality regulation and in particular Article 3 of the Regulation undoubtedly contains no categorical prohibition of price discrimination ("acte clair"). Article 7.4a, third paragraph, of the Tw is therefore unequivocally contrary to the network neutrality regulation. In this connection, the court notes that no other conclusion is possible than the national legislature has acted against by better understanding by Article 7.4a, third paragraph, of the Tw, in spite of the establishment history and the text of Article 3 of the Network Neutrality Regulation , Based on "further examination of the text of the Regulation".

'via Blog this'

FCC website 'targeted by attack' after John Oliver comments - BBC News

FCC website 'targeted by attack' after John Oliver comments - BBC News: ""Mr Pai is essentially trolling the trolls," Chris Marsden, professor of internet law at the University of Sussex, told the BBC.
"If you bait John Oliver, you reap what you sow."
The FCC will vote on Mr Pai's proposals to revoke the legislation on 18 May." 'via Blog this'

Thursday, April 27, 2017

FCC Chair Ajit Pai Announces Bullshit Plan to Destroy Net Neutrality

FCC Chair Ajit Pai Announces Bullshit Plan to Destroy Net Neutrality: "if Pai wants to enact a rule that will survive a legal challenge, he’ll have to show it isn’t an “arbitrary and capricious” reversal of policy, under the Administrative Procedure Act.

Or, as we outlined previously, it’s possible that Pai’s move to open rulemaking is intended to pressure Democrats on the Hill into making a bad deal on new net neutrality-related legislation.

If the threat of a rule change does bring Democrats to the bargaining table, that too is unlikely to result in strong regulation. Any deal that can pass a Republican majority in both houses and Trump in the White House would likely be favorable to ISPs and Philip Berenbroick, senior policy counsel at Public Knowledge, told Gizmodo that “a bad deal legislatively is the worst outcome here.”" 'via Blog this'

5 Things to Know About the Next Battle Over Net Neutrality | Variety

5 Things to Know About the Next Battle Over Net Neutrality | Variety: "While Pai is in favor of the repeal of title II, what is unclear is what kind of rules would replace the current ones. He has reportedly looked at an approach in which ISPs would voluntarily agree to a set of guidelines, but that would fall far short of what longtime activists have sought. That’s why so many activists say that Pai’s attack on title II is an attack on net neutrality itself.

 He plans to reveal the full proposal on Thursday, and the FCC would then vote on May 18 to officially kick off a proceeding to gather public comment. Pai indicated that a final vote would come later this year." 'via Blog this'

Net Neutrality Alive and Well in Canada: CRTC Crafts Full Code With Zero Rating Decision - Michael Geist

Net Neutrality Alive and Well in Canada: CRTC Crafts Full Code With Zero Rating Decision - Michael Geist: "The Commission established its first net neutrality policy response in 2009 with the Internet traffic management practices. The rules restrict content blocking or slowdowns and require ISPs to disclose how they manage their networks. T

he issue expanded into zero rating in 2013 when Ben Klass, a graduate student in telecommunications, filed a complaint with the CRTC over how Bell approach to its Mobile TV product.

 In January 2015, the CRTC released its decision in the case, siding with Klass. The Commission expressed concern that the service “may end up inhibiting the introduction and growth of other mobile TV services accessed over the Internet, which reduces innovation and consumer choice.”

 Today’s decision largely completes the process by providing a framework for examining future zero rating or differential pricing cases (and rejecting Videotron’s music service plan in an accompanying decision). The ruling opens by examining whether differential pricing (of which zero rating is a form) raises concerns regarding preferences or disadvantages.  The Commission concludes that it often does" 'via Blog this'

Friday, April 21, 2017

Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2017-104: Paras 126-129 on #zerorating

Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2017-104 | CRTC: "Evaluation criteria

 In the context of evaluating whether a differential pricing practice is compliant with subsection 27(2) of the Act, the Commission has established evaluation criteria that will provide all stakeholders, particularly ISPs, with a degree of predictability. The Commission will consider the following evaluation criteria in any future analysis of whether a differential pricing practice involves an undue or unreasonable preference or disadvantage:

The agnostic treatment of data. The Commission will consider the extent to which data traffic is priced or rated equally or agnostically by an ISP with regard to its customers’ retail Internet access services, while having regard to the amount of data involved. Offerings that rate or price data non-agnostically, such as by zero-rating data traffic from certain content providers (including affiliated entities), are likely to raise concerns under subsection 27(2). Differential pricing practices that treat data traffic agnostically (e.g. time-of-day offerings) are not likely to raise the same level of concern.

The exclusiveness of the offering. The Commission will consider the extent to which a differential pricing practice is exclusive to a particular class or group of subscribers, or to a particular content provider or class or group of content providers, while also having regard to the number of subscribers or content providers affected. For example, differential pricing practices that are exclusive to subscribers to a particular data plan are likely to raise concerns under subsection 27(2).

The impact on Internet openness and innovation. The Commission will consider the extent to which a differential pricing practice inhibits or compromises the openness of the Internet for Canadians and the choices available to Canadians. In particular, this analysis will consider (a) whether a differential pricing practice affects the ability of content providers or innovators to enter the market by creating barriers to entry, and (b) the extent to which a differential pricing practice affects innovation. For example, differential pricing practices that require content providers to conform to administrative and technical requirements that are burdensome, costly, or time-consuming to meet are likely to raise concerns under subsection 27(2). Differential pricing practices that favour large, established content providers over smaller ones and new entrants are also likely to raise concerns.

Whether there is financial compensation involved. The Commission will consider whether a differential pricing practice results in financial compensation or other financial benefits between a content provider and an ISP or third-party sponsor (including affiliated entities), having regard to the amount of compensation involved and the extent of the financial interest with any affiliated entity. For example, sponsored data arrangements, where an ISP receives payment from a content provider in exchange for zero-rating the data traffic to and from that provider, are likely to raise concerns under subsection 27(2).

In applying these criteria, the Commission will give primary consideration to the agnostic treatment of data, since differential pricing practices that favour certain content at the expense of other content have the greatest potential for harm. The Commission will look to the other three criteria as additional considerations in any evaluation of a differential pricing practice.

None of the four evaluation criteria will necessarily be determinative on its own, as each assessment of a differential pricing practice will be fact-specific. The weight given to each criterion may also vary from case to case, depending on the circumstances.

Finally, the Commission will consider whether there are exceptional circumstances that demonstrate clear benefits to the public interest and/or minimal harm associated with a differential pricing practice. For example, the Commission may consider whether there are privacy-related, technological, administrative, or other factors that would impact its analysis under subsection 27(2) such that the benefits of allowing a specific differential pricing practice would clearly outweigh any harms." 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

ACM SIGCOMM Workshop (2016) on Hot Topics in Middleboxes and Network Function Virtualization (HotMiddlebox 2016) - ACM SIGCOMM 2016

ACM SIGCOMM Workshop on Hot Topics in Middleboxes and Network Function Virtualization (HotMiddlebox 2016) - ACM SIGCOMM 2016: "Modern networks heavily rely on advanced in network processing for a wide spectrum of crucial functions ranging from security through traffic management, all the way to Voice over IP (just to name few). Until recently, these network functions were implemented in dedicated hardware "middleboxes" spread within the network. However, the strive to reduce cost and increase agility is motivating a major shift to a paradigm where software-based processing is done over virtualized, shared platforms built on commodity hardware servers, switches, and storage.

This trend towards virtualized middleboxes, called Network Function Virtualization, NFV, with the use of Software Defined Networks, SDN to control the network flows is gaining popularity in the telecommunication industry as well as in academia. Yet, this paradigm shift is at a very early stage and many interesting questions remain open in this regard. " 'via Blog this'

Monday, April 17, 2017

Private Eye Media News: Sky Q degrading BBC iPlayer?

Private Eye Media News: "BOULTON WONDERER…
Sky’s Adam Boulton blames the Beeb when he can’t find an interview with the PM on iPlayer – but his access problems have more to do with Sky’s whizzy new Q box." 'via Blog this'

BBC should NOT necessarily occupy top EPG spot - Elstein

BBC should NOT necessarily occupy top EPG spot |: "Elstein says Purnell’s answer is to ask the UK parliament to force on-demand services to provide “due prominence” for public service catch-up offerings “like iPlayer”.

“This “like” is another weaselly formulation, as the only catch-up service from the designated public service broadcasters (BBC, ITV1, Channel 4 and Five) that provides exclusively public service content is – the iPlayer.

The equivalent services from ITV, Channel 4 and Five all include an array of programmes that never appeared on their public service channels: content from ITV2, ITV3, ITV4, E4, More4, 5USA and so on that are nothing to do with public service television, including all the programmes acquired from abroad that are not even British (which is true of the iPlayer, too). Why should any platform be forced to give these services ‘due prominence’” asks Elstein.

 Elstein concludes by saying it is highly unlikely that today’s Culture, Media & Sport ministry will demand changes to the current status quo. “The Digital Economy Bill is likely to pass with no such encumbrances. But that has never stopped the BBC asking,” states Elstein." 'via Blog this'

‘Nobody’s got to use the Internet’: A GOP lawmaker’s response to concerns about Web privacy - The Washington Post

‘Nobody’s got to use the Internet’: A GOP lawmaker’s response to concerns about Web privacy - The Washington Post: "Sensenbrenner’s statement has since drawn criticism from social-media users. Some accused the 73-year-old congressman of being out of touch in the digital age, when something as basic as paying the bills, buying clothes or finding a job is done online.

 “Nobody has to use indoor plumbing or electricity. They can just use outhouses and kerosene lamps. They have a choice, right?” one Twitter user wrote.

“Nobody has to use the Internet? Many jobs require it. Schools require it. Take his office Internet away, maybe?” said another." 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Net neutrality: We are interested in Aadhaar and Make in India: Sebastien Soriano, Chairman, Berec

Net neutrality: We are interested in Aadhaar and Make in India: Sebastien Soriano, Chairman, Berec, Technology News, ETtech: "Is BEREC likely to take a similar decision as India on zero rating or Free Basics?

In the European framework, zero rating is not banned in itself. Our regulation is quite new, and now one-third of us in Europe are concretely looking at practices of zero rating. Some of us have taken decisions, others are still in process, and so we will see the outcome.

Some practices will be banned, others will be cleared.

 The idea is that we will make a panorama of this at the end of this year. BEREC will issue a report on how the net neutrality regulation has been implemented.

 How do you view India’s telecom sector?

Something that I found interesting, which is close to what we are trying to do in Europe, is what Trai is doing with MySpeed app. The Austrian regulator is doing exactly the same thing.

When prices are low, it’s important to give the ability to the consumer that gives more importance to quality. If the end user has the right information about the best network, then they will subscribe to that network, which in turn will make more money for the operator, which he can invest into the networks." 'via Blog this'

BEREC seeks common understanding on net neutrality with India

BEREC seeks common understanding on net neutrality with India: "BEREC Chair Sebastien Soriano (Arcep) took this opportunity to emphasise that European regulators followed with great interest the Indian regulator’s move to ban Free Basics. He also expressed BEREC’s interest in the Indian industry’s dynamism, notably the impact of Reliance Jio on the market, the cost-sharing model through tower companies and the digital enabler Aadhaar. 

 This meeting was the occasion for BEREC Chair and Vice-Chairs to engage a discussion with their Indian counterpart to find the points where they have a common understanding about net neutrality. “India is the most important democracy in the world; Europe is the second one. So, as net neutrality is a democratic issue, it’s really important that the most important democracies stick together to see if we are considering this the same way.” 

In this regard, BEREC Chair informed the Indian regulator that BEREC intends to dedicate an important of its work to net neutrality this year.

In particular, a BEREC report on implementation of the net neutrality rules in the EU is to be issued this year. It is also envisaged that, in 2017, BEREC experts will elaborate a tool kit for quality of service measurements" 'via Blog this'

Friday, April 07, 2017

DT flirts with net neutrality controversy | Telecoms.com

DT flirts with net neutrality controversy | Telecoms.com: "Apple Music, Amazon’s Music Unlimited and Prime Video, napster, Netflix and Sky Go are a number of the services on offer currently, though there is potential for this list to expand substantially. A new partner programme has also been launched which doesn’t seem to have many limitations for the moment, presumably if you are prepared to pay Deutsche Telekom for the privilege.

“There’s no restriction: any provider of legal audio and video content can become a partner,” said Michael Hagspihl, Head of Consumer. “The StreamOn partnership is open to any interested party.”

 It’s an interesting move from a country which would usually be associated with conservativism, as the jury is still out on whether zero-rating offers are contradictory or complimentary to competition in the telco market. While there are valid arguments on both sides of the debate, the move from Deutsche Telekom could certainly prompt intervention from German regulators, known to be one of the strictest worldwide." 'via Blog this'

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

National Media and Infocommunications Authority • NMHH decision on non-discriminatory Internet

National Media and Infocommunications Authority • NMHH decision on non-discriminatory Internet: "The point of EU’s net neutrality rules is that internet service providers shall not block, slow down, alter, restrict, interfere with, degrade or discriminate between specific content, applications or services. The Hungarian Telekom’s TV GO service infringed these provisions, since other similar OTT- and video sharing services were only available for the subscribers’ data traffic package expense. The net neutrality provisions ensure the subscribers right to access and distribute information and content, use and provide applications and services of their choice, without discrimination not restricted by service providers or by third parties without any legal basis." 'via Blog this'

Friday, March 31, 2017

Net Neutrality Is Trump’s Next Target, Administration Says - NYTimes.com

Net Neutrality Is Trump’s Next Target, Administration Says - NYTimes.com: "In a news conference, Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, mentioned the net neutrality rules affecting telecommunications and cable internet services, noting that the Obama administration had “reclassified them as common carriers.”

 Mr. Spicer said President Trump had “pledged to reverse this overreach.” The Obama-era rules, Mr. Spicer said, were an example of “bureaucrats in Washington” placing restrictions on one kind of company — internet service suppliers — and “picking winners and losers.”" 'via Blog this'

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The 5G policy approach - Pan European Networks

The 5G policy approach - Pan European Networks : Pan European Networks: "The EU net neutrality rules are technologically neutral, and the rules will also apply to internet access services offered over the future 5G networks. If network slices are used to optimise the traffic in the 5G network, this must be done in a way that is consistent with the principle of net neutrality.

Some use cases of 5G will qualify as specialised services – certain forms of M2M communications, for example. Presumably, network slices could facilitate the reasonable traffic management allowed under the Net Neutrality Regulation if they are applied solely to differentiate between the objectively different technical quality of service requirements (e.g. interactive versus bulk traffic).

The concern for civil society, however, is that network slices can also be used to create internet fast lanes with paid prioritisation for certain types of content, such as through vertical integration with specific online video streaming services.

In July 2016, European telecommunication companies presented a ‘5G Manifesto for timely deployment of 5G in Europe’, which was welcomed and published online by the European Commission.3 The 5G Manifesto describes network slicing as a way to accommodate vertical integration with industry business models, and highlights the danger of restrictive net neutrality rules in this context." 'via Blog this'

Zephyr Teachout: Supreme Court Pick Neil Gorsuch “Sides with Big Business, Big Donors & Big Bosses”

Zephyr Teachout: Supreme Court Pick Neil Gorsuch “Sides with Big Business, Big Donors & Big Bosses”: "You see this incredible concentration. A lot of that comes from Justice Scalia and other people in the Chicago school, the law and economics school, believing that we should gut antitrust and basically allow monopolists to gather power. And in these two antitrust opinions, Judge Gorsuch shows that he is really with the—with that Chicago school, and, in fact, suggested he might go even farther saying, “Well, one of the reasons people go into business is the capacity to get monopoly rent, so we don’t want to discourage people for going into business,” instead of understanding, as Justice Brandeis and the true lions of our democratic past understood, that antitrust law was really critical for challenging excessive concentrations of power." 'via Blog this'

Friday, March 10, 2017

Donald Trump's FCC Chairman Spreads More Alternative Facts About Net Neutrality | Free Press

Donald Trump's FCC Chairman Spreads More Alternative Facts About Net Neutrality | Free Press: "“Pai keeps repeating the utterly debunked claim that the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules are utility-style regulations that are hurting broadband deployment. This is false on the law and false on the facts. It ignores not just the actual language of the FCC order, which explicitly forbears from the bulk of Title II, but the actual impact that Title II reclassification has had on the market.

 “Pai’s claim that Net Neutrality protections have created great uncertainty in the marketplace is a flat-out lie, as is his notion of flatlining investment by internet service providers. We long ago discredited these claims. 


“Pai’s frequent charge that investment has declined is based on the claims made by one industry-paid analyst, who selectively edits the figures reported by some of these companies. But if you take account of the industry’s spending as a whole, you’ll see that broadband-industry investment was nearly 9 percent higher in the two years following the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order than it was in the two years prior." 'via Blog this'

Monday, March 06, 2017

The FCC Helped Make the Internet Great: Now, It’s Walking Away - Knowledge@Wharton

The FCC Helped Make the Internet Great: Now, It’s Walking Away - Knowledge@Wharton: "President Trump’s FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, is smart, savvy and knowledgeable about the agency and Congress. He talks a great deal about his commitment to rural broadband access. Like virtually all Republicans, however, he wants to scale back the network neutrality rules.

The FCC’s first actions on the issue came under two Bush-era chairmen, but most Republicans have always been skeptical of the need for formal broadband non-discrimination rules. Ironically, that now puts them out of step with the industry. Though still opposing classification as a regulated common carrier and some of the FCC’s specific requirements, virtually every major broadband operator is on record endorsing what would have been considered strong net neutrality rules in 2004 or even 2008. They’ve lived with net neutrality requirements for the better part of four years now, and the sky hasn’t fallen.

Pai and his compatriots, however, believe that today’s rules need to go." 'via Blog this'

Ghana regulator denies reports on banning Whatsapp, skype calls - 60 years indie Ghana News

NCA denies reports on banning Whatsapp, skype calls | Ghana News: "The Chief Executive Officer of MTN Ghana, Ebenezer Asante had  called on the NCA to work on regulating OTT calls to stop the increasing loss of revenue suffered by telcos and government.

According to him, the telcos are losing more money through OTT calls than through SIM BOX fraud.
“In as much as Sim Boxing is illegal and we must all fight very hard to stop it, there is a much bigger issue with over the top calls generated through the internet media. So when you make a whatsapp call you are making the call through the internet and bypassing the traditional channel,” he said.

Pointing to some measures taken by some countries in the Middle East to stop OTT calls, Mr. Twum Asante suggested that all social media calls be redirected through the traditional channels like it is done in those countries.
“I think the regulator in our country can also do same. We have to protect the operator in this country because that is the only way government can generate enough revenue from the sector,” he noted.

An over-the-top (OTT) call is a service which allows individuals to make calls over the internet and bypasses traditional distribution." 'via Blog this'

Friday, March 03, 2017

Google launches peer-to-peer YouTube vid sharing, only in India • The Register

Google launches peer-to-peer YouTube vid sharing, only in India • The Register:

"Google's decided that India needs its very own YouTube, so has cooked up something called “YouTube Go” that permits peer-to-peer video sharing.

Details of the new app are sketchy, but the bits aimed at India are the ability to preview videos before downloading them and advance warning of file sizes.

Vids can be saved to a device's storage .

There's also a promised feature allowing the ability to “Share videos with family and friends without using data”.

And all that will be offered to Indians first: the other 5.5 billion of us have of us have to wait" 'via Blog this'

#UKDigitalStrategy failures and successes

It's never easy writing a digital strategy when staying in the EU to encourage skilled immigration and capital, and pushing fintech/blockchain 5 years ago, should have been your priorities. But the UK version published Wednesday contained so much retread from the magnificent and genuinely ground-breaking 1999 Cabinet Office ecommerce@its.best.uk that I felt obliged to retweet the 1999 version to see if anyone could see any top-level differences. They couldn't because there weren't - unless you count changing 3G to 5G?
But my biggest beef with the 'don't mention Brexit we're British' was not #digitalasanoun or #cybercybercyber. It was the first 2 sentences of Chapter 1 which repeat the "exploding Internet growth" incorrect meme that I rail against in the book:
1.  blended fixed/ 19% CAGR 2015-2020 (slower than current 29%) fixed=Wifi 1.4EB 2015
2.  Chap1 line 1 incorrect forecasts. "Exploding" (sic) growth evidence-based policy making see book pp79-82
4.  latest forecast 12% fixed traffic growth doubling in FIVE years to 2020, not two
5.  used 2011 2013 forecasts for & traffic growth (2x in 2 yr) accurate estimates from 2016?
The #partylikeits1999:
4. Not that (infamously tech ignorant) had clue what @itsbest was about but great work by &
3. Those last 2 tweets on priorities for were from foreword @itsbest signed by Sept 1999
2. Ensure that all in society share in benefits of ; ecommerce high political priority; all parts of Government work together
1.  3 points: facilitate access to technology & networks, to enhance potential of e-commerce, & create trusted environment
But there was good news:
1. Good news in is group on - presume cash really new, not reheated, & aligned with
2.  starts with Lloyds, Barclays, Google-by-the-Sea. Then uses to accompany
As for #OpenInternet - well nothing on #netneutrality of course but something on ITU:

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

MWC 2017: Wikipedia goes data-free in Iraq - BBC News

MWC 2017: Wikipedia goes data-free in Iraq - BBC News: "The free programme begins on 28 February and was revealed at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The Wikimedia Foundation states on its website that it does not pay mobile phone providers who sign up to the programme and they do not get any editorial control over the platform." 'via Blog this'

Rise of the Apps: How OTT Traffic is Balancing a Carrier Slump

Rise of the Apps: How OTT Traffic is Balancing a Carrier Slump: "TeleGeography has fairly reliable estimates of Skype’s traffic through 2013, when the company carried 214 billion minutes of on-net (Skype-to-Skype) international traffic. Telcos terminated 547 billion minutes of international traffic in 2013, and Skype plus carrier traffic totaled 761 billion minutes.

 If we assume that total (carrier plus OTT) demand for international communications has continued to grow at a relatively modest 13% annually since 2013, the combined volume of carrier and OTT international traffic would have expanded to 971 billion minutes in 2015, and to just under 1.1 trillion minutes in 2016.

As traditional carrier traffic has slumped, OTT traffic has risen to fill the void." 'via Blog this'

Ignore the GSMA's "Advanced Messaging"​, RCS & "Universal Profile"​ | Dean Bubley

Ignore the GSMA's "Advanced Messaging"​, RCS & "Universal Profile"​ | Dean Bubley | Pulse | LinkedIn: "The project started in 2007, and emerged as a lukewarm 2008 IM concept for featurephones in the days when both iOS and Facebook where just emerging onto the stage. I described it as a "coalition of the losers" in a report in 2010. It evolved to a dead-on-arrival branded app called "joyn" as smartphones gained traction, and it has tried climbing out of its grave so many times since that I describe it as a zombie. Various operators have deployed it, then given up - even in markets like Spain and South Korea where multiple operators offered it at first." 'via Blog this'

Thursday, February 23, 2017

BBC Internet Blog - Balancing, spikes & speed: Architecting media distribution cloud services

BBC Blogs - Internet Blog - Balancing, spikes & speed: Architecting media distribution cloud services: "In the Media Distribution team, our main systems are content caching servers, known as caching cells, that make up the BIDI Content Distribution Network (CDN). For these systems, we still rely heavily on physical machine deployments to meet our performance requirements. The caching cells also need to be deployed in certain geographical locations, meaning that a cloud based architecture restricted to Amazon’s data centres wouldn’t work, even if the performance were good enough.

Not all of our services in BIDI have to be deployed like that, however. The “brain” of the platform, which deals with traffic management and configuration, is a suite of micro services which aren’t tied to any particular data centre. For these services, AWS/Cosmos promises faster deployments and less operational overhead than our internal deployment platforms. It’s often cheaper in the end as well, even though AWS’ fine-grained pricing model makes it hard to quickly determine whether that’s going to be the case.

 One of the BIDI related services that we decided to deploy in the cloud is called Croupier and is used when making decisions about which CDN to redirect BBC iPlayer clients to. Croupier is a lookup service which provides an HTTP GET endpoint where the iPlayer client’s IP is a parameter. The service is internal: it is only used by another (AWS based) BBC service called Media Selector, which is called by iPlayer before the user actually gets to see any video." 'via Blog this'

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Walden Shies Away From Big Communications Act Overhaul | Bloomberg BNA

Walden Shies Away From Big Communications Act Overhaul | Bloomberg BNA: "Walden said Congress could defer to the broadband industry unless it identifies a particular problem requiring a legislative fix. “The marketplace is changing so rapidly, and if the marketplace can handle it, then the marketplace should,” he said.

 He also plans to defer to Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who chairs the committee’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee, on launching telecom policy initiatives." 'via Blog this'

Monday, February 13, 2017

Republicans are ready to take down the FCC - The Verge

Republicans are ready to take down the FCC - The Verge: "That kind of change can’t just happen with a directive from Pai. An agency restructuring that would strip it of antitrust abilities in theory requires an act of Congress. “It’s difficult for [the FCC] to say, ‘Well this doesn't work anymore,’” Jamison says. “The law is still there, so that's really up to Congress to update those laws.”

 And rewriting telecom law isn’t easy. It’s traditionally been a bipartisan effort, and given the margins in Congress, it would have to be here, too.

"I assume any effort to update the Telecommunications Act would end up being bipartisan again this time around for it to be longstanding and have the consensus of what all stakeholders want," says Lewis, of Public Knowledge.  "It will take some time because it's a complicated and long act."

 “Do you know how many years it took to write the Telecom Act of 1996?” Eshoo asks. “Oh my God. It was at least a decade.”" 'via Blog this'

Friday, February 10, 2017

Connected Nations 2016 - Ofcom: Section 6 Internet Access

Connected Nations 2016 - Ofcom: "The highlights are:

 A major package of new regulatory obligations, coupled with complementary enforcement powers for regulators, is in the process of implementation. This will result in greater transparency in how ISPs manage traffic, market their services and contract with customers.

ISPs have already been improving the information they provide to consumers about the use of traffic management on their networks as part of a voluntary code of practice administered by the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG). Current traffic management practices in widespread use have minimal or no impact on most users on fixed networks but, given the fixed capacity and variable demand in specific parts of mobile networks, may have an appreciable effect on mobile users during peak periods in busy areas.

The amount of internet data being delivered to consumers by major video content providers continues to increase. The use of content delivery networks (CDNs) also continues to increase: internet content is increasingly being served from caching servers embedded in the ISPs’ access networks and provided by the content providers.

Larger-scale ISPs are progressively introducing support for the latest IPv6 internet addressing system;
The lack of security of Internet of Things (IoT) and other low cost internet connected devices is leading to their being targeted by malware and their use to launch distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, increasing concerns over security of personal data." 'via Blog this'

French watchdog Soriano promotes 'self-organized' market in land of dirigisme - MLex

French watchdog Soriano promotes 'self-organized' market in land of dirigisme - MLex: "He’s hardly the first regulator to think about new modes of enforcement at a time when terms such as Regulation 2.0 and Agile Policymaking have become common. But most of his peers have confined themselves to developing theoretical models. Soriano is intent on putting the models into practice.

 One cornerstone of regulating with data is collecting information in the first place. So Arcep plans to launch an ambitious data-gathering system this year to shed light on all sorts of indicators in the telecom market, ranging from mobile coverage to connection quality.

The agency will run some, but not all, of these databases.

But once they are in place, Soriano’s idea is to package the information into apps that would allow consumers to pick and choose operators with more precision. Any misbehavior would show up on the datasets, making it easy for consumers to ditch companies that don’t match their expectations." 'via Blog this'

Regulate telecom oligopolies on a case-by-case basis, Dutch authority says - MLex

Regulate telecom oligopolies on a case-by-case basis, Dutch authority says - MLex: "Keetelaar called for the updated law and significant-market-power guidelines to contain detailed advice — which he insisted should be based on economic evidence — to help regulators judge how to approach the regulation of duopolies.

 He was also keen to point to a recent commission decision approving a Dutch joint venture between mobile operator Vodafone and cable operator Liberty Global.

That approval, the commission wrote, came “against the backdrop of existing access obligations” imposed on incumbent KPN. Keetelaar said this showed that even competition authorities see the value of access rules also in markets with two national operators, rather than just one dominant one.

 He also dismissed the argument often made by incumbent operators that regulation hampers investment. “For instance, in the Netherlands, we have regulation and plenty of investment. It is by no means clear that if we stop regulation, it will be good for investment.”" 'via Blog this'

Net Politics President Trump’s Unlikely Effect on the U.S.-EU Tech Relationship - Net Politics

Net Politics President Trump’s Unlikely Effect on the U.S.-EU Tech Relationship - Net Politics: "The manner in which the United States defends online rights, in turn affects the ability of the United States and the European Union to set global norms together.

It will be harder to promote net neutrality in developing economies if the new Federal Communications Commission chairman is committed to repealing its protections domestically. It will be harder to promote shared norms for appropriate state behavior in cyberspace if the United States is not seen as abiding by them.

Warmer relations with illiberal governments will make the case for liberal democracy a tougher sell.

 With the president’s approval at historic lows and concerns about his policies growing, the digital transatlantic relationship must be shaped not by government-to-government ties, but rather through clusters of businesses, civil society groups and governments that share the same values. U.S. tech companies should join Europeans in their calls to ensure values such as fair competition, access to information, free speech and non-discrimination are upheld." 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Donald Trump could be about to end net neutrality

Zero rating: Streaming video gets a break

Zero rating: Streaming video gets a break: "How does someone convince consumers that free data is “bad” for them?  To convince consumers that they don’t know what is good for themselves, zero-rated data has been described by some as violating net neutrality or, more accurately, the spirit of net neutrality.  This is a rather broad policy assertion, and an even broader legal assertion, so clarification is useful. 

To be sure, zero rating plans were being evaluated under new regulations that were part of the Open Internet Order that ushered in the codification of net neutrality principles.

In particular, as the Commission itself said it would be, zero rating was evaluated (in large part) under the highly controversial General Conduct Rule." 'via Blog this'

Monday, February 06, 2017

Net Neutrality in the EU: Australian Journal of Telecommunications

Net Neutrality | TelSoc: "Net Neutrality
A perspective responding to recent developments in the European Union
 Unlike2
Issue: 
AJTDE - Vol 4, No 4 - December 2016
Author(s)
David Rogerson
Incyte Consulting
Pedro Seixas
Incyte Consulting
Jim Holmes
Incyte Consulting" 'via Blog this'

Don't Believe Those Against Net Neutrality, Title II and Privacy--Funded by the Phone, Cable and Wireless Associations: USTA, NCTA, & the CTIA | The Huffington Post

Don't Believe Those Against Net Neutrality, Title II and Privacy--Funded by the Phone, Cable and Wireless Associations: USTA, NCTA, & the CTIA | The Huffington Post:

Kushnick goes loco on the astroturfing of the telcos:

"He has been a vocal critic, like Pai, about Net Neutrality and Title II, and never once noticed that Verizon’s entire networks have been Title II for decades — before the FCC decision, and it never harmed investment—it is the investment vehicle.

 And if you want to get pissed some more — you know that every cent these people are getting, not to mention, for these associations, are paid by you and anyone with cable or broadband service.

 Ironically, while we hear that there is a call for “transparency” at the FCC, this doesn’t mean that anyone has to reveal their backgrounds and biases, much less their current telco-cable funding.

 Say It Loud: I Don’t Believe You." 'via Blog this'

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Tesla's bundling of zero rated Spotify with a SIM card is a violation of the EU's net neutrality rules. Strand Consult submits complaint to two European telecom authorities

Tesla's bundling of zero rated Spotify with a SIM card is a violation of the EU's net neutrality rules. Strand Consult submits complaint to two European telecom authorities: "From many regulators’ perspectives, allowing zero rating harms the openness of the Internet.  It certainly harms the openness of competition and the viability of telecom law when telecom services are allowed to be sold with differing regulations, protections, and treatment.

 Going forward this issue will only become more complex with the Internet of Things and new providers of services, SIM cards and traffic. It seems that BEREC has attempted to isolate and favor new types of mobile providers from rules, but given their labyrinth of guidelines and the conflicting opinion across countries, it is likely that regulators will come under legal challenge for limiting the free flow of services across the European Union.

Notably American telecom authorities encourage zero rating and the Federal Communication Commission notes that it receives no complaints about free data from real consumers, only select activists.

Given that the EU continues to fall behind the US in investment and internet innovation, the ban on pricing flexibility and partnerships seems misguided and distortionary in a converging marketplace." 'via Blog this'

BBC licence payers deserve a strong, independent regulator

BBC licence payers deserve a strong, independent regulator: "Non-executive directors are all appointed by the secretary of state for culture, media and sport (DCMS). Of its current six, three have affiliations with the Conservative party. The deputy chair, Baroness Noakes, takes the Tory whip in the Lords. Graham Mather is a former Tory MEP. And the chair, Dame Patricia Hodgson, while not politically active, is a former head of the Conservatives’ Bow Group and featured in Charles Moore’s biography of Margaret Thatcher as her regular lunch companion.

The chair carries a double question-mark as she was a long-time senior executive at the BBC until she left in 2000. Dame Patricia will be wise to every trick in the BBC book, but at moments of political tension she is liable to face accusations that she is too familiar with the players to be a proper referee. 


That frontline referee may have to be Ofcom chief executive, Sharon White, who until 2015 was a second permanent secretary at the Treasury. Ms White has fine civil service values. But when fan and ordure meet, she will have to prove her detachment from government.

 Ms White’s caution, along with Dame Patricia’s BBC background, played a role during my time chairing the content board. I succeeded Tim Gardam, a former television executive, on the basis that Ofcom and the DCMS felt independence from the BBC could best be displayed by choosing a former print editor instead of an ex-BBC person.

Related article
BBC World Service to transmit radio show into North Korea
Broadcaster raises global ambitions despite increasing financial pressures

 The trouble with journalists, it transpired, is that they write. Perhaps alarmed by the febrile atmosphere surrounding the June 23 referendum, Ms White decided in May that for the chair of the content board to publish articles on matters of public policy could produce a conflict of interest should editorial complaints arise about such issues.

A legal opinion was produced to back this up, one which should, on the face of it, have ruled out my recruitment in the first place. Accordingly, Ofcom negotiated an amicable settlement for the early termination of my contract.

Four months later, DCMS secretary of state, Karen Bradley, overturned the settlement, alleging that three tweets, one Italian interview and an article about “Preparing for President Trump” amounted to “misconduct” and that Ofcom had no power to negotiate a deal.

 Suspicion of the establishment is running high. So it is crucial that the BBC should have regulators who are seen to be independent of mind and stiff of spine. Instead, the DCMS and Ofcom’s leadership appear to believe that having editorial regulation fronted by an independent writer is a greater risk than having the main board dominated by one party.

Contrary to Lord Patten, “ever more powerful” does not seem the main danger. Supine and too close to government represent bigger worries.  'via Blog this'

If Donald Trump builds a wall against the open Internet, will you pay for it?


When Donald Trump was inaugurated as 45th President of the United States of America on 20th January, he had one easy policy to implement and one person to pick as his Internet policy chief. Where Obama was the Google and Facebook President, Trump is the alt-right alternative-news Twitter President. He wants to build a paywall for his friends and supporters’ businesses on the Internet, and you the user may end up paying for it.
His policy – to dismantle President Obama’s main Internet policy of ensuring network (‘net’) neutrality – also known as the ‘Open Internet’ principle. His pick: the most vocal Republican critic of the outgoing administration’s policies. His time scale: THREE days. On 23 January, Ajit Pai was confirmed as Chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the largest and most powerful Internet regulatory body in the world. On 24 January, he appointed his staff to dismantle the Obama policy. On 31 January, he closed the inquiry that had tried to implement Obama’s policy. He is highly unlikely to agree to another one. Expect loud protests against his new policy inside and outside the first Trump era FCC Open Meeting on 23 February.
Thus begins the ‘Third Age’ of net neutrality regulation. The first was the preparation and policy formation, largely prior to legal enforcement, from 1999 to 2009 (which I documented in the first book on the topic). The second was the growing international consensus on net neutrality in 2009-2016, not just in Obama’s US but also in Europe with laws passed in both 2009 and 2015, in Latin America with new laws in Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Costa Rica, and India, which outlawed zero rating in 2016. My new book explains that seven year passage to regulatory implementation. But now we enter the new Trumpian era for net neutrality.
So what is net neutrality, and what is zero rating? Net neutrality is the principle, elaborated by US law professors Mark Lemley, Lawrence Lessig, and then Tim Wu (who coined the term in 2003), that access providers that connect you to the Internet should not block, throttle and otherwise discriminate between content you choose when you use the ‘Net. (There are narrow exceptions for security against viruses, spam, law enforcement and temporary congestion.)
Take an example: your mobile phone company should not degrade your use of WhatsApp, Skype or YouTube evne though they have their  services in a bundle they want you to use instead. Remember when phones were mainly used for texting and calling? Mobile operators admitted they tried to stop this happening, degrading independent services Skype and WhatsApp connections in the 2000s, leading in 2011 to the first European net neutrality law when Netherlands consumers – and politicians – were outraged that mobile companies were tracking their phone use and blocking WhatsApp. Mobile operators have now agreed in many countries not to block your connections, and the laws that ensure your freedom to connect are slowly being implemented in detailed regulation.
Zero rating is the alternative to that now-illegal blocking and throttling. Mobile and even fixed line operators want to give you a bundle of ‘preferred’ affiliated content, like bundling basic cable TV services. These “sponsored data” plans allow you to use certain services without dipping into your data allowance, with other companies picking up the bill – you pay indirectly through their ‘sponsorship’. The giant companies like Facebook (which bought WhatsApp in 2014), Microsoft (which bought Skype in 2011), and Google (which bought YouTube in 2006) can afford to negotiate ‘sponsored data’ to zero rate, with the telecoms and mobile companies. A new rival to Facebook, WhatsApp – such as Signal – or YouTube could not. Wikipedia could not, the BBC could not.
Regulating to create an open Internet was still a work in progress in 2016, with opposition from big telecoms and cable corporations in the courts, that meant it took six years of Obama’s Presidency to begin effective implementation. I wrote three years ago in The Conversation that the litigation was wrapping up the policy in knots, but six months ago that litigation failed, vindicating the FCC in part. Only five months ago, the European regulators created their own detailed rules – all seemed settled on both sides of the Atlantic. Hungary, Netherlands, Sweden (and in a perverse manner Slovenia) were all implementing zero rating rules.
As recently as 11 January, Obama’s FCC declared the zero rating plans of the giant telecoms companies Verizon and AT&T to be against the open Internet rules – with bitter opposition from then-Minority Commissioner Pai. It accused AT&T of treating its own DirecTV better than its rival services, making the system uncompetitive be favouring its own subsidiary. Smaller rival T-Mobile’s BingeOn video service, was permitted as it “charges all providers the same zero rate for participating”. FCC had already warned both AT&T and Verizon about its offers in separate letters – but that it is now history. The Wireless Bureau author of that declaration, and Obama’s FCC Chairman, have both ‘moved onto other responsiblities’.
How can you affect open Internet rules? Academics study the law, the policy, the technology, the business economics, the privacy and human rights implications, the civil society protests when net neutrality is infringed, all around the world. Some of us advise governments on the implications of different forms of net neutrality regulation (I have done so for a decade now). Millions have responded to the US and Indian consultations, over half a million to the European guidelines. One professor went further.
Lawrence Lessig, one of the ‘fathers’ of net neutrality regulation, taught at the University of Chicago Law School with Obama – and was so worried about Trump, and billionaires’ corruption of politics, that he ran for President in 2015. Unlike his fellow lawyers Obama and the Clintons, he did not get very far. His open Internet idea was Obama regulatory policy – how long will it be before Ajit Pai and his President Trump consign that freedom to connect to history? If net neutrality fails, expect more sponsored data plans inside the paywall, and more difficulty in accessing higher cost data if you want to leave the ‘bubble’.