Feeds

Ofcom launches idiot's guide to traffic-shaping

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

Boost IT visibility and business value

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. ®

Seven Steps to Software Security

More from The Register

next story
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Google Nest, ARM, Samsung pull out Thread to strangle ZigBee
But there's a flaw in Google's IP-based IoT system
Orange spent weekend spamming customers with TXTs
Zero, not infinity, is the Magic Number customers want
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
NBN Co execs: No FTTN product until 2015
Faster? Not yet. Cheaper? No data
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.