Watchdog casts an eye over ‘throttling’
Net neutrality a competition issue
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is taking an interest in the “net neutrality” debate in Australia, according to the Australian Financial Review.
The discussion was revived by the announcement that Telstra is trialling “traffic management” technologies. This prompted accusations that it was either already throttling P2P traffic, or intended to do so.
The carrier later protested that it was merely looking for ways to improve the customer experience, noting that it had told the ACCC:
“Telstra’s goal is to optimise the customer experience by managing congestion on its ADSL network through price, investment and technical means. Traffic on Telstra’s ADSL network has on average doubled every 12 months for the past four years, driven to a large extent by growth in demand for real time entertainment. Without continued congestion management further growth in traffic will result in more congestion at peak times, negatively impacting on the customer experience”.
However, if the ACCC’s remarks to the Australian Financial Review are anything to go by, the competition regulator isn’t convinced, with chairman Rod Sims saying:
“Clearly there is a vertical integration issue where internet service providers can control what comes down their pipe and obviously if, unrelated to the reports about Telstra, we see that ISPs were using that technology to influence their own content over other content then that would be of concern to us.”
The question would appear to be twofold. The first is that with ISPs stitching up deals with content providers, QoS enforcement that inhibited consumers’ access to content outside the walled garden would be viewed as anti-competitive.
While the ACCC didn’t mention advertising, it seems to The Register that services promoted on speed might by vulnerable to complaints about false advertising if particular traffic types are throttled. ®
Personally, I'm a proponent of Net Neutrality. I didn't sign up with my ISP for VOIP services, or streaming video: I signed up for X Gb per month, delivered to my ADSL modem.
That's it: no mention in my contract as to what the bandwidth was being used for. One month, I may be heavily playing on-line games. Or I may be streaming video for YouTube (or Netflix). Or I may be downloading the new Linux installation for my fileserver (which reminds me I need to do that in fact).
Bandwidth is a commodity same as water and power - these companies don't care how much water/power I use or what I use it for so long as I pay for what I use.
So Telstra... stop bitching and fix your damn network instead of over-selling your capacity and then coming up with tenuous reasons to throttle your customers to stop your network from collapsing.
Pay per byte
As mentioned above, bandwidth is (or should be) like water or electricity: I don't buy 100 kWh/mo for a fixed price, and have my fridge stop running on the 27th because I had my Xmas display up for the last couple of weeks.
I'm now using a web host that goes against the flow: I pay a certain amount per Mbyte of date transfer, and a certain amount per GB-month of storage, and guess what? It costs less than I can get anywhere else. It would be interesting if some gutsy telco would offer a similar deal for BW---I bet they'd clean up, especially once they started building out based on where they feel the pinch. They could even offer pay-per-byte and fixed chunk at the same time, and let the customers try it both ways.
Unfortunately, there's nothing resembling real competition in any telco/cable/bandwidth provider market I'm aware of, so I'm not holding my breath.
Re: Nothing to do with pirates
If they didn't want P2P then why sell 100+ gig a month accounts?
It's like selling you a Ferrari and then taking back the wheels to make sure you don't speed.
In reality it not even to stop you speeding but so they don't have to fix the crappy roads.