Feeds

Ofcom launches idiot's guide to traffic-shaping

'Streaming video is like driving a heavy lorry. But you're a car'

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

UK net regulator Ofcom has published an idiots' guide to traffic shaping to try to encourage people to see how wonderful it is ahead of the inevitable battle over net neutrality.

Starting with a history of the internet, the document (PDF, as silly as it sounds) explains that in the early days there wasn't any congestion – happily conflating last mile and backbone provision – and that it was ultimately addressed by the provision of broadband. The regulator went on to propose a single solution: traffic management.

"To ensure that networks operate efficiently," the guide explains, "fixed-line and mobile internet service providers (ISPs) can restrict or ration traffic on their networks, or give priority to some types of traffic over others during peak periods or more generally."

For those struggling with the concept there's an analogy with vehicles, which comes with pictures.

"Activities like streaming video are the lorries and take up a lot of space, whereas emailing or browsing are smart cars and much smaller" Ofcom explains, citing motorways as comparable to pipes. "A bus lane gives priority to buses over other types of vehicles and makes the buses’ journey times shorter."

...an analogy which breaks down when one remembers they closed the bus lane on the M4.

But banal as the guide might be, it is an early strike in the forthcoming battle over net neutrality. Already embodied in US legislation, the EU is similarly determined to make it illegal for anyone to pay extra for a decent Netflix connection.

Mobile operators managed to exempt themselves in America, on the grounds that voice takes priority over everything, but the net neutrality mantra is that 999 calls are no more important than cat videos and distinguishing between the two is immoral.

Ofcom's stance has been that customers are entitled to any service they choose to pay for, and as long as ISPs are open and honest about what they're doing then there's nothing to worry about.

However, that cuts no ice with Steelie Neelie (aka European Commission vice president Neelie Kroes) and her ilk, who can see a net neutrality bandwagon gathering speed and are determined to be seen boarding it early. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
EE buys 58 Phones 4u stores for £2.5m after picking over carcass
Operator says it will safeguard 359 jobs, plans lick of paint
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Google+ GOING, GOING ... ? Newbie Gmailers no longer forced into mandatory ID slurp
Mountain View distances itself from lame 'network thingy'
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
Drag queens: Oh, don't be so bitchy, Facebook! Let us use our stage names
Handbags at dawn over free content ad network's ID policy
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
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.