Net Neutrality Archive

The Net Neutrality battle comes to Australia courtesy of Optus

Articles

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.

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FCC passes rules to enforce Net Neutrality

Articles

US to enforce net neutrality – Strategy – Telco/ISP – News – iTnews.com.au

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

FCC

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.

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US President Obama takes action on Net Neutrality

Articles

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”.

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Netherlands makes net neutrality mandatory | DigitalProductionME.com

Article

Netherlands makes net neutrality mandatory | DigitalProductionME.com

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.

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European governments want Net Neutrality set in stone

Article

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.

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FCC to set the first yardstick for Net Neutrality

News articles

HP Blogs – FCC does define rules on net neutrality – The HP Blog Hub

FCC Approves First Net Neutrality Rules | Datamation

From the horse’s mouth

FCC Website

Report and Order concerning Net Neutrality (PDF) – FCC

Press Release (PDF) – FCC

My comments

Through this action. the FCC have become the first national-government telecommunications department in a major English-speaking country to use their executive power to  “set in stone” a minimum standard for “Net Neutrality”.

Basically, their standard requires wireline services (cable Internet, ADSL, optical-fibre) to pass all lawful Internet content and allow users to connect non-harmful devices to their Internet services. This would therefor prohibit limiting of access to “over-the-top” Internet video, VoIP and similar services. Similarly it requires wireless services (3G, WiMAX, etc) not to blocking sites that compete with their business offerings like VoIP services.

There is still a problem with the wireless services in that they could block access to competing app stores on platforms that permit such stores, set up “walled gardens” when it comes to mobile content or provide “preferential tariffs” for particular services. This can be of concern to those of us who, for example, use client-side applications and commonly-known URLs to gain access to the Social Web rather than the carrier’s preferred “entry point” bookmarks or URLs. Similarly, the carrier could gouge people who go to favourite media Websites rather than the ones that the carrier has a partnership with. This last point may be of concern when mass-media outlets and wireless-broadband carriers see the “mobile screen” as another point of influence over the populace and establish partnerships or mergers based on this premise.

Net Neutrality will also have to be considered an important issue as part of defining the basic Internet service standard for the country so that service providers or gavernments can’t provide it just to people who purchase upper-tier service for example.

A good issue would be for other national-government or trading-bloc communications authorities to tune this definition further so that if there is the goal of Net Neutrality, it becomes harder to avoid the standard.

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