Feeds

ISPs - beware of paranoid bloggers

Ofcom goes gentle on neutrality

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Exclusive Ofcom will encourage ISPs to be transparent about traffic management, but won't ask them to detail the information in a standard format, according to meeting notes seen by The Register.

The regulator is sounding out opinion from ISPs and consumer groups on traffic management, which it sees as the only aspect of the US "Net Neutrality" debates applicable to the UK.

In the US, the debate was politicized and emotive; pressure from left-wing activists attempted to push both Congress and the FTC into passing pre-emptive technical regulations. At the loonier end of the debate, some called for compulsory nationalisation of the private assets, without compensation.

Here the debate is more rational; Ofcom doesn't agree that pre-emptive rules must be made, and favours a hands-off approach. A consultation was launched in June.

"Ofcom stressed that they are open-minded about how they achieve consumer transparency, eg self-, co-, or proper regulation but they also pointed to Commissioner Kroes' statement that 'transparency is non-negotiable'," we learn from the notes.

But Ofcom won't push the ISPs to present the traffic management techniques in a standardised format. And ISPs present reflected their unease that shopping comparison sites might be tempted to weigh in.

"Several ISPs expressed their wariness in relation to third party websites who often lack independence," according to the notes.

BT has circulated a draft set of principles to ISPs - which we've also seen - with a number of commitments. These include open access: "We will not block any legal service or seek to charge content or applications providers for basic service."

An individual user’s experience will depend on the access level/technology purchased and any relevant contractual conditions" - and a commitment to freedom of expression. BT would also provide "an indication of the minimum and general level of experience our customers can expect".

It leaves ISPs "free to deploy techniques to manage congestion and optimise the performance of the various applications using their networks", including prioritising time-critical applications and limiting the throughput of non time-critical applications.

ISPs haven't been impressed by the evidence Ofcom offered.

"Ofcom’s evidence for negative effects of traffic management mainly consisted of statements from bloggers and forum users, eg 'my provider' is degrading my peer2peer speed 24/7," ISPs note.

"It may be necessary to highlight that this 'evidence' does not constitute evidence but rather consists of assumptions that may as well be explained by general network congestion or other factors that affect the user experience."

The phenomenon of users thinking they're being throttled when they're not has popped up before - see our story on the man who discovered his net wasn't neutered for an example of the persecution complex. What made that story unusual is that the persecuted blogger has several RFCs to his name: demonstrating that hysteria can affect even veteran internet experts.

But that's over there.

Interestingly, Google will be entirely absent from a day-long net neutrality seminar hosted by the Broadband Stakeholder Group next week. Attendees include Ofcom and EU reps, CDNs and network vendors, ITV and Canvas, and all the biggest ISPs. It'll be left to Skype to argue the case for a Free Lunch.

Google and Verizon agreed a set of draft principles this month which if they find broader support, as looks likely, will probably kill the political issue Stateside. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
TEEN RAMPAGE: Kids in iPhone 6 'Will it bend' YouTube 'prank'
iPhones bent in Norwich? As if the place wasn't weird enough
Consumers agree to give up first-born child for free Wi-Fi – survey
This Herod network's ace – but crap reception in bullrushes
Crouching tiger, FAST ASLEEP dragon: Smugglers can't shift iPhone 6s
China's grey market reports 'sluggish' sales of Apple mobe
Sea-Me-We 5 construction starts
New sub cable to go live 2016
EE coughs to BROKEN data usage metrics BLUNDER that short-changes customers
Carrier apologises for 'inflated' measurements cockup
Comcast: Help, help, FCC. Netflix and pals are EXTORTIONISTS
The others guys are being mean so therefore ... monopoly all good, yeah?
Surprise: if you work from home you need the Internet
Buffer-rage sends Aussies out to experience road rage
EE buys 58 Phones 4u stores for £2.5m after picking over carcass
Operator says it will safeguard 359 jobs, plans lick of paint
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.