Category: Net Neutrality

The Net Neutrality battle comes to Australia courtesy of Optus


Netflix official logo - courtesy of Netflix

Optus considers breaking net neutrality in Australia | IT News

Optus may charge Netflix and streaming services for video quality | Mashable

Optus Wants Netflix To Pay For ‘Premium Service’ Over Its Network | Gizmodo

Optus wants Netflix to pay up to ensure quality video streaming | Digital Life (Sydney Morning Herald)

My Comments

There has been a huge stoush in the USA between the established cable companies and telcos versus the Internet content providers, Internet users and the FCC regarding the issue of Net Neutrality.

This principle is where an Internet service provider can’t charge an internet content provider like Netflix for better throughput to their customers. This has got to the point where the FCC and President Obama had pushed for the Internet to be deemed a utility service in a similar vein to the telephone service. But this is being subject to a legal challenge which is being watched by a lot of the Internet operators over here as well as in the USA.

Now Optus have thrown the possibility of charging Netflix, Stan & Co a premium fee for higher throughput to their customers as one of many ways to cater for the arrival of streamed on-demand video via the Internet. The argument that is pitched is that customers will complain to their ISP rather than the OTT video provider or catch-up TV service if the experience with their video-on-demand service isn’t up-to-snuff.

Like in the USA, Netflix has been standing for Net Neutrality thus wouldn’t go for any unmetered data arrangements with any of the Australian ISPs. So they wouldn’t go for Optus’s arrangement of whoever pays the piper plays the tune.

Issues were also being raised about the cost and availability of wholesale and retail bandwidth in the Australian market especially in the face of video-on-demand becoming more popular thanks to Netflix and co. This will also include factoring in quality-of-service for content streaming so as to avoid “glitches” through viewing sessions along with catering for higher resolution video content.

It certainly is showing that Australia is needing to cope with a higher demand for real broadband with the proper throughput and this has to be provided in a highly-competitive manner and with assurance of Net Neutrality and quality-of-service.

FCC passes rules to enforce Net Neutrality


US to enforce net neutrality – Strategy – Telco/ISP – News –

FCC Passes Strict Net Neutrality Regulations On 3-2 Vote | TechCrunch

FCC Votes ‘Yes’ on Strongest Net-Neutrality Rules | TIME

From the horse’s mouth


Press Release

My Comments

He's spoken up for Net Neutrality and competitive Internet service

He’s spoken up for Net Neutrality and competitive Internet service

I have previously given a fair bit of covered to the issue of Net Neutrality and competitive Internet service in the USA.

Now the FCC have voted 3:2 to pass rules that place Internet service providers in the USA under the remit of Title II of the US Communications Act. This treats them like regular communications services rather than as information services and proscribes discrimination of data traffic sent to their customers.

It has been part of an ongoing battle by FCC, human-rights organisations, technology lobby groups and Internet content providers against established telecommunications and cable-TV companies to assure a level playing field for Internet-hosted data traffic. This is because of the existence of “over-the-top” TV and telephony services like Netflix, Hulu, Skype and Viber offering services competing with established cable and telephone services.

The rules ban paid prioritisation and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services and are described as the “bright-line rules”. They also include forbearance so that certain rules like telephone operator service requirements don’t apply to data carriers like ISPs.

But, as I have observed, incumbent telecoms and cable-TV firms along with conservative pro-business reduced-government lobbies have been standing against the Title II rules. The counterclaims offered include increased government regulation of Internet service with the inability to innovate and I would see them being valid as long as sufficient and sustainable real competition exists in the Internet service market.

The other gap that hasn’t been looked at is establishing a mandate for universal broadband access especially in to rural areas where there isn’t the likelihood of gaining decent broadband service. This includes provision of this goal using cost-effective technology.

What then needs to happen is for action to take place to assure real competition for telecommunications, pay-TV and Internet service in the USA and to proscribe redlining of communities that are deemed to be unworthy of decent Internet service. This can be taken on not just by the FCC but by other federal government departments like the Department Of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission.

What will also be interesting to see is whether these rules will withstand a legal challenge that Comcast, AT&T and the like put up in the US Supreme Court.

Why FCC’s Tom Wheeler is not caving in to cable and telco pressure


Net Fix: Why FCC’s Wheeler is ‘defying the greatest lobbyists in the world | CNet

My Comments

I had come across this interesting article in CNet about FCC’s current commissioner, Tom Wheeler and the way he is standing up for the consumer, real competition and Net Neutrality. There were people who were saying that he would cave in to the cable and telecommunications industry because of his work with them but he has determined that the end user is his customer.

In 1984, he was involved with the NABU idea which was a special home computer that would be connected to the cable TV infrastructure to deliver games and news information to consumers. This was a closed-loop system that required the use of particular equipment all the way. Compare this with Steve Case who had built up America Online which was centred around commonly-available home computers and modems along with the common telephone network. This was a service that led to and underpinned the dot-com era. The NABU system had to have him get permission from each and every cable operator to set that up in every market. This had given him a first-had experience of what happens to closed-loop telecommunications systems that don’t work on an open framework where you end up with them stifling innovation and them suddenly collapsing.

But Tom Wheeler got his hands wet with the nascent cable-TV industry where he lobbied against the NAB to build the service with programming and make it viable in the minds of consumers. This was where he met his wife Carol who was lobbying for the National Association Broadcasters.

His current reign as FCC Chairman has made him to be the equivalent of Joseph Kennedy Snr. in 1934 when he set up the Securities & Exchange Commision in the first bid to regulate Wall Street. Here, this was about standing up to powerful interests especially that of the US business moguls. It was also about getting things done at the FCC rather than the niceties, like what had happened in the UK at Ofcom when they humiliated British Telecom to provide competitors access to the local loop at reasonable prices.

But what has he done in his position as FCC Chairman?

  • He has had the e-rate program which provides tech finding to schools and libraries modernised. This has lead to it benefiting from US$45 billion of revenue from a wireless-spectrum auction that took place in January 2015.
  • He eliminated the decades-old sports-blackout rule concerning the broadcast of sports fixtures organised by the popular sports leagues like NFL. This was where TV stations and networks, including cable and satellite TV setups, couldn’t broadcast a sports fixture in the town it was played unless the match was sold out.
  • He raised the minimum bandwidth of an Internet service to be classed as a broadband service from 4Mb to 25Mb like what most of Europe calls a broadband service. This was to raise the game when it came to DSL services offered by the incumbent telcos.
  • He sided with T-Mobile to make AT&T and Verizon charge reasonable data-roaming rates for 4G LTE services
  • He is intending to pre-empt state laws which preclude the establishment of competing fixed-broadband infrastructure by cities, communities and competing operators
  • This is part of an effort by the FCC to bring teeth to the concept of Open Internet. Tom Wheeler even caused President Obama to take action to have broadband Internet deemed a Title II Utility in the same concept as fixed telephone service. This is where the service gains various legal protections and requirements

His term at the FCC is about the fact that he represents the US communications-service end user who is watching TV, listening to the radio, making calls on a fixed or mobile phone, or using a regular or mobile computing device  to benefit from the Internet.

Personally I see Chairman Tom Wheeler as someone who could bring the USA in to line with Britain, France and the Nordic countries where they don’t kowtow to established telecoms monopolies or cartels but bring forward real competition. His work could be underscored by the bodies at the Department Of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission as a way to effectively shake up the telecommunications industry and stop it going backwards.

US President Obama takes action on Net Neutrality


Obama’s Plan To Save The Internet, Detailed | Gizmodo

Battle lines drawn: Obama’s net neutrality stance puts rift on display | Mashable

Radio Broadcast

Obama moves to bolster free flow of internet traffic | ABC The World Today (Listen here)

My Comments

US Flag By Dbenbenn, Zscout370, Jacobolus, Indolences, Technion. [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsA common issue that is being raised in relationship with the Internet service in the USA is “Net Neutrality”. This is where there is the desire for any one who provides content to the Internet to gain access to the Internet’s bandwidth on an equal footing to each other.

It is in contrast to the likes of AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and Time Warner Communications who want to sell a faster pathway and guaranteed access to their subscribers’ bandwidth to companies who are willing to pay for it.

I have also seen the issue of Net Neutrality in a similar context to real service-provider competition in most of the USA. This is because one company, typically an incumbent telephony provider or cable-TV company provides Internet service to a neighbourhood via a particular technology. An example of this is Comcast providing cable TV and Internet via coaxial cable, along with AT&T providing landline telephony and DSL Internet service via telephone lines and, AT&T even providing cell phone (mobile phone) and mobile data via the airwaves in that same neighbourhood.

The situation that comes about in most US markets is that these companies establish cartels in order to control the service that people benefit from. Here, this has led to poor customer service and Internet-access packages that represent poor value-for-money, including the arrival of bandwidth-throttling for some cable-Internet services. This situation was leading towards an environment reminiscent of the telephony service in the US before the Carterfone decision and the enforced breakup of AT&T (Ma Bell) in the early 1980s.

Here, when you don’t have Net Neutrality and you have the status quo associated with uncompetitive Internet service, the companies can charge Internet content providers an arm and a leg to gain access to that neighbourhood.

This issue was going to take a long time to be sorted because the US politicians in both the Congress and the state governments were effectively being paid by “Big Business”. But Barack Obama, the US President, had taken action to have the FCC provide the level playing field for Internet service.

Here, he outlined a plan where there would be no blocking, no throttling, increased transparency and no paid prioritisation of Internet traffic. Here, he wanted to see the FCC place all Internet traffic on the same footing as telephone traffic by classifying it under Title II of the 1934 Telecommunications Act which guarantees the reliability of telephone traffic, in a similar equivalence to having the broadband Internet treated as a “utility”.

One issue that would be of concern is that outgoing FCC commissioners would be heading to top positions in the US’s broadcasting and telecommunications firms especially if they did what these companies wanted. This is although the President of the United States Of America, as head-of-state and head-of-government is technically the FCC’s Commander-In-Chief and has that level of oversight.

At least a US President has had the guts to stand up for Net Neutrality, especially with a pro-consumer angle rather than pandering to “Big Money”.

Net Neutrality and competition are at risk of giving way to US big money


Guess Who’s Winning The Money Battle In The War On Net Neutrality | Gizmodo

My Comments

This recent article is showing how the US government is capitulating to Big Money, especially from AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, when it comes to Net Neutrality and, to some extent, competing service. Here, it also highlighted how FCC are pandering to big-business interests because the jobs with telcos and cable companies are becoming a popular destination for outgoing FCC Commissioners.

Why do I think of Internet-service competition in relationship to Net Neutrality? This is because when you have fewer Internet-service providers or telecommunications companies serving a particular market or providing a backbone service, you also have a greater risk of these companies selling privileged access to Internet service at very steep costs.

Previously, I had raised the issue of government departments that regulate telecommunications being independent of established telecommunications providers which brought around the idea of competitive Internet service in the UK and France. Here, I mentioned about these countries having cheaper or better-value Internet service because these government departments don’t curry favour with incumbent telecoms operators and there is oversight of the telecoms market by competition regulators and drew this comparison when I touched on Deutsche Telekom being “Drossel-kom” (“Throttle-kom”) in Germany because their telecoms regulator curried favour with this incumbent operator.

What I suspect that is happening now is that the US is effectively heading to a business climate for telecommunications, Internet service and pay-TV similar to the business climate for like services that existed in the 1970s before the Carterfone decision and the anti-trust rulings levelled against AT&T came about. This is where AT&T (Ma Bell) was able to get away with poor customer service and phone services that were of poor value for money because they were the only option for telephony. This is also shown up with repeated customer-satisfaction surveys in the US placing these companies at the worst for customer satisfaction.

Some public-interest foundations like Represent.Us and the Sunlight Foundation are targeting the issue of Big Money controlling American politics and an American could support these efforts if they want to restore real competition with their telecommunications services.

The issue of volume-limited tariff charts raises its ugly head in Germany with Deutsche Telekom

Article – German Language

Drosselkom: Telekom-Tarife: Wo Sie Flatrates und wo eine Drosselung bekommen | 02.12.2013 | Technik |

My Comments

Previously I had touched on the issue of government involvement with providing competitive telecoms and Internet service. This was more about assuring that incumbent operators aren’t being given an unfair advantage over competing operators and is a situation that is happening in the USA but also happening in Germany.

In the USA where cable-TV companies and incumbent telcos in areas where there isn’t much in the way of competitive Internet service, the customers are being given an increasingly raw deal and are starting to face volume-limited tariff charts in a similar vein to what is happening in Australia and New Zealand and also what happens with mobile-broadband services.

Germany is facing an Internet market where their telecommunications regulator, Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA), is being too favourable with Deutsche Telekom who is the incumbent telecommunications provider in that country. But there are not as many competitors in the telecoms and Internet-service space and they aren’t operating on a level playing field to what Deutsche Telekom is operating on.

What has been happening there is that Deutsche Telekom who were previously offering “flat-rate” Internet packages are moving towards similar packages to what is offered in Australia where there is bandwidth throttling and volume-driven packages. This has caused Deutsche Telekom to end up being called “Throttle-Kom” (Drosselkom) and there is consumer-law-based litigation taking place in some of the states (Lander) concerning breach of contract in relation to the “flat-rate” services.

Personally, I would like to see this also looked at by the European Commission in relation to a required level of competition for telecommunications and Internet services in built-up areas especially if Germany is to seek EU aid for communications projects. Similarly, German government departments at both the federal and state (Lander) level who have responsibility concerning competition and consumer issues need to have the country’s telecommunications and Internet-service market looked at.

Over the last decade, France and the UK have taken steps to assure competitive telecom service including Ofcom (UK’s telecoms regulator) hauling British Telecom over the coals to have them provide competitive access to the local loop at reasonable prices. This has been because the telecommunications regulators and the competition / consumer regulators have had real teeth and didn’t curry favour with particular operators.

If a country needs a lively Internet and telecommunications market where everyone can have access to a quality service at affordable prices, the telecoms regulators in that country need to work the market on a level playing field. Here, they cannot let incumbent telecoms and cable-TV operators run amok or apply double standards between incumbent and competitive operators.

Gigaclear to provide competitive retail access to their fibre networks


thinkbroadband :: Gigaclear partners with Fluidata to offer provider choice on network

My Comments

In the UK, a lot of small fibre-based networks are popping up in different country areas to offer real next-generation broadband to these areas. They are typically either a sole private effort or assisted by local or central government or even the local community.

But, unlike most next-generation broadband networks (including the National Broadband Network in Australia) and the ADSL broadband networks in most areas, there isn’t competitive access to the infrastructure. Here, it makes it hard for these markets to be approached with retail Internet service that competes on price or services offered.

Now, Gigaclear, whom I have been following on, have partnered with Fluidata to open their fibre-to-the-premises networks to other retail providers on a competitive-access model. This could allow a potential customer in Lyddington, Appleton or somewhere similar to benefit from a competitive tariff chart or sign up to a package that has “all the fruit” like VoIP telephony or IP-provided television.

There needs to be a platform for providing competitive access to infrastructure provided as part of any new next-generation-broadband project  This means that there is a company who looks after the infrastructure to the point of demarcation between the company’s responsibility and the customer’s responsibility at a customer’s installation.

But different companies can use this platform to provide a business or home customer access to the Internet using this infrastructure but in a competitive manner. Here, a customer then chooses which company provides an offer that best suits their needs and provides the best “bang for the buck”.

One could easily think that such a platform needs to be built or integrated at a later stage after the project is established but it is worth investigation any competitive-access systems as part of rolling out a next-generation Internet or rural-broadband-enablement project.

Netherlands makes net neutrality mandatory |


Netherlands makes net neutrality mandatory |

My Comments

The issue of Net Neutrality and access to competing telecommunications services is still a thorny issue in the USA and some other countries where telephony and cable-TV monopolies still exist and have extensive clout.

But the Netherlands government have used their telecommunications laws to make Net Neutrality a mandatory requirement through that country. This also encompasses the requirement of ISPs and mobile carriers to allow customers to gain access to “over-the-top” telecommunications services in that country. It was driven by the KPN incumbent telecommunications company wanting to slug customers for use of these services and this practice that KPN did was working against the European goal of competitive trade.

How I see this effort in the Netherlands is that it is another step in the right direction to encourage competition for value with telecommunications, something which is being required in the European Union. The more countries that mandate Net Neutrality and similar requirements, the better it would be for a competitive telecommunications and broadcasting environment.

The proof is now in the pudding for Hambleton’s fibre-optic broadband (VIDEO)

From the horse’s mouth

Gigaclear Customers website

Press release

Video – BBC East Midlands Today TV interview

Link to video at YouTube

My Comments

I have previous covered the arrival of fibre-to-the-home broadband at Hambleton, a village in Rutland in the United Kingdom courtesy of Gigaclear and Rutland Telecom.

This included doing a Skype-based telephone interview on this network. Now I have seen and provided this video which exemplifies the benefit of this real broadband Internet service to this village.

An example of this was the Finch’s Arms pub which had experienced a different from of trade that a “local” wouldn’t experience. They had installed a Wi-Fi hotspot and there has been more through the till for them due to this broadband service. They also acquired more of the business traffic again due to the high-speed Internet traffic,

Of course, there was a change of life brought about buy the provision of this fibre-optic network with the city-style Internet service being exposed to these residents. Some were even achieving reliable Skype videoconferencing sessions with distant relatives while others were making telecommuting more feasible.

From what I have seen, this is an example of what can be done to enable a village or small country town with real Internet.

European governments want Net Neutrality set in stone


Skype – The Big Blog – Parliaments across Europe renew calls to protect net neutrality

My Comments

There has been a lot of discussion about the Net Neutrality idea where there is to be equal treatment for data that flows over the Internet compared with a commercial desire to prioritise data that favours an ISP’s or partner’s interests or limit or throttle data that goes against those interests.

In Europe, various national and regional governments are endorsing or mandating the concept of Net Neutrality with the provision of Internet service. For example, the Berlin city-state’s regional government have recently endorsed this concept and Luxembourg have, from 17 November, moved a motion that Net Neutrality is part of that country’s national law and to be promoted through the European Union. It has already been adopted in France who have a lively competitive Internet-service environment as well as the Netherlands. As well, the European Parliament have moved motions to stand behind an open and neutral Internet.

But the mobile operators are seen to be against the Net Neutrality concept due to their investment in their cellular telephony services.

This issue is very much about permitting competitive service providers to exist in the IP-based broadcasting / content-delivery and communications space; but is also about free speech and a free press. It would also ring true with environments that push the competitive-trade issues like France and the UK; and could encompass the issue of whether mobile operators should charge extra for tethering or not.

I stand for Net Neutrality because it permits a competitive environment for providing Internet-hosted communications or content delivery services as well as permitting a free press and freedom of speech. The ISPs should really be seen as common carriage-service providers like telephone companies or public utilities.