Feeds

Ofcom: ISPs can cripple the web as much as they please

Throttling good, net neutrality bad, says watchdog

Build a business case: developing custom apps

UK regulator Ofcom won't force operators into net neutrality pacts, being happy to rely on competitive pressure to keep the web open, but it does want transparency for customers.

Ofcom's basic position is that network operators can do whatever they like, as long as they let their customers know what they're doing. Anyone advertising "internet access" should indeed be offering access to the majority of the internet, but if they want to host exclusive content, favour particular sources of traffic over others or throttle P2P downloading or anything else they fancy, then that's fine by Ofcom.

The 'net neutrality debate is a heated one, with entrenched ideological opposition on both sides, but in reality the internet is far from neutral already. The larger ISPs increasingly do deals with the big content providers to host their content closer to the edge of their networks, while smaller content providers languish in the depths of the internet and smaller ISPs struggle to compete.

Ofcom's position [PDF] is not only that this is fine and fair, but that it is inevitable, so the question moves on to the best way to deal with the situation. As Ofcom puts it:

The question is not whether traffic management is acceptable in principle, but whether particular approaches to traffic management cause concern.

Accurate estimates of average connection speed will be expected at the point of sale for anyone signing up with an ISP, and providers will be required to advise customers with "information about the impact of any traffic management that is used on specific types of services, such as reduced download speeds during peak times for peer-to-peer software" as well as any blocking of specific services.

How many services can be blocked before a provider loses the right to call its service "internet access" isn't specified, so would come down to a case-by-case discussion.

Not that the regulator is expecting to be called to adjudicate often, there's clearly a hope that self regulation will provide standardised reporting while competitive pressures ensure transparency and accuracy in those reports. Otherwise the regulator will reconsider and might yet legislate. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
PwC says US biz lagging in Internet of Things
Grass is greener in Asia, say the sensors
Ofcom sees RISE OF THE MACHINE-to-machine cell comms
Study spots 9% growth in IoT m2m mobile data connections
O2 vs Vodafone: Mobe firms grab for GCHQ, gov.uk security badge
No, the spooks love US best, say rival firms
Ancient pager tech SMS: It works, it's fab, but wow, get a load of that incoming SPAM
Networks' main issue: they don't know how it works, says expert
Trans-Pacific: Google spaffs cash on FAST undersea packet-flinging
One of 6 backers for new 60 Tbps cable to hook US to Japan
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.