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UK ISPs To Make Voluntary Net-Neutrality Commitment 75

Posted by timothy
from the almost-like-there's-a-market-for-neutrality dept.
Mark.JUK writes "A UK government advisory body, the Broadband Stakeholders Group, has confirmed that most of the major fixed line internet providers in the country will next week sign-up to a new Voluntary Code of Practice on Traffic Management Transparency. Recently everybody from the European Commission to the UK government has called upon ISPs to be more 'transparent' with their traffic management policies, which until now have been too vague and often fail to inform customers about any background restrictions that might be being imposed upon their services. The new code is likely to surface as a result of last year's Net Neutrality consultation — the principal of treating all internet traffic as equal — by the country's communications regulator. Ofcom is not expected to enforce any tough new rules, largely due to a lack of evidence for market harm, but will recommend greater transparency from ISPs. However, to most providers, transparency usually means yet more unreadable small print."
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UK ISPs To Make Voluntary Net-Neutrality Commitment

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  • by Dutchmaan (442553) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @07:35PM (#35448644) Homepage
    Self regulation is just toothless regulation, basically letting a business say, 'ya.. thats kind of a cool idea.. and if it's convenient i might consider it'
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Self regulation is just toothless regulation, basically letting a business say, 'ya.. thats kind of a cool idea.. and if it's convenient i might consider it'

      True, but this is certainly better news than the conceivable opposite story: "UK ISPs Form a Voluntary Group Vowing to Never Enact Net Neutrality". Actual legislation with teeth behind it is what is ultimately needed, but take what you can get when it's given to you.

      • by click2005 (921437) *

        FTFA:

        To function properly IPTV services often require new content agreements and distribution models in order to become economically viable.

        Translation: They're going to be trying to charge IPTV services like iplayer, youtube for non-throttled access to their customers.

        Giving ISPs some flexible to do this, while not impeding standard access, may be needed. However, its success still rests upon content providers wanting to play ball.

        Translation: We'll ignore any attempts to shake down IPTV providers.

        Meanwhi

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          To function properly IPTV services often require new content agreements and distribution models in order to become economically viable.

          And why should we care if IPTV services are economically viable? If they need to have such "vertical integration" then there's something wrong with their business model.

          TV is just fine, thank you very much. The less we make the Internet into TV the better.

          There has to be real Net Neutrality. People who provide bandwidth should not be providing content. That is monopolist

          • by microbox (704317)

            TV is just fine, thank you very much. The less we make the Internet into TV the better.

            No way, TV sucks. I only watch stuff via the internet or DVD. That is the future, and the content providers are being dragged to the party by the likes of thepiratebay. Just like TV, content providers have to charge a nominal fee for an internet service, because the first to prefect this will own the future. It is a far superior way to consume media.

            • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

              That is the future, and the content providers are being dragged to the party by the likes of thepiratebay.

              And the girl with the short skirt was just asking for it.

              Seriously, you need to contemplate that "they made me do it" explanation of why the Internet needs to be destroyed by turning it into TV.

              And if TV sucks, then TV needs to get better. That can be done without turning the Internet into Cablevision.

              • by Belial6 (794905)
                Having TV run over the internet is no more turning it into Cablevision than having TVs use electricity turns your power company into Cablevision. Turning the Internet into TV would require the REMOVAL of OTHER services. Adding new uses to the system can not do it.
                • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

                  Turning the Internet into TV would require the REMOVAL of OTHER services.

                  Do you really not realize that the telecoms that are trying to turn the Internet into their private pay-TV network intend to remove lots of services when they become the primary content providers on the 'Net?

                  Look at the effort to crush or co-opt Internet radio.

                  It used to be that if you had an Internet connection, you could publish what you want, say what you want. What's going to happen when the ISPs start "prioritizing" their own tr

                  • by Belial6 (794905)
                    IPTV vs. Net Neutrality is a false dichotomy. In fact, most people recognize that Net Neutrality inherently encourages IPTV by allowing more players in the market. I agree that Net Neutrality is important. I agree that ISPs should not be allowed to provide content. That doesn't change the fact that TV over the internet is better than the crappy system we have now where the data provider has 100% control over the content.
                    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

                      That doesn't change the fact that TV over the internet is better than the crappy system we have now where the data provider has 100% control over the content.

                      That's interesting. I never really thought of TV that way. But you're right. The "data provider" (I'm using the US tv model because that's what I know) is always the content provider. Stations broadcast and stations create (or buy) the content. It creates an incentive to consolidate ownership of tv stations nationwide so that you have our current

        • To function properly IPTV services often require new content agreements and distribution models in order to become economically viable.

          Translation: They're going to be trying to charge IPTV services like iplayer, youtube for non-throttled access to their customers.

          Actual translation: iPlayer uses more bandwidth than the BBC can provide, and they work around this by placing caching proxies on partner ISP networks (as they do for other BBC content). This reduces costs for both parties - the BBC doesn't need as much bandwidth and the ISP doesn't have as much off-network traffic. Other services use CDNs like Akamai to achieve the same result. Some definitions of network neutrality would prevent this, but neither the ISPs nor the content producers want that because it

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        but take what you can get when it's given to you.

        When dealing with the corporate world, "taking what you can get" is a recipe for getting nothing. It just doesn't work that way. Consumers have a power which precedes corporate power. We have been brainwashed not to believe that, but it's still true.

        If you say you'll "take what you can get", they'll do "whatever they can get away with".

      • by Jurily (900488)

        1. Promise Net Neutrality.
        2. Convince government to do nothing, citing promise.
        3. Wait until the issue dies down, both in the media and in legislation.
        4. Back down from promise.
        5. PROFIT!!!

    • by Threni (635302)

      Yes, I'm more interested in how the UK allows `unlimited internet` of a few tens of megs per month. What's the penalty for these clowns breaking their promises? Court/legal action? Or a promise to "try harder"?

      • It's voluntary, too. You needn't expose anything you don't (insert your ad here! contact Virgin today!) tell anyone that you're putting your (Read The Times! google ads) stanching anything.

        • by rtb61 (674572)

          Straight off the bat it does look like PR=B$, "balance the performance of their networks, which allows the majority of customers to avoid being unfairly affected by a minority of heavy users". As everyone knows that is a lie, it has always been a lie and will always be a lie.

          Heavy users drawn down 24 hours a day. The problem with bandwidth is peak load times, not the 24 hour a day load. Those peak time when everyone hooks up, like weekdays immediate after work and school finishes or early morning weekday

          • No.

            The bandwidth paid is the bandwidth paid. Yeah, there are heavy users. Uploaders, downloaders, isochronous, asych, bisynch, uploaders/downloaders, it's all good and it's been that way since the beginning of the commercial use of the Internet. Many people are spoon-fed a mix of 90%down 10%up. That's the biggest part of the problem. Unless you get a symmetrical connection, they're robbing you, in my opinion.

    • Not when there are tens and tens of ISPs in the UK, all working under local loop unbundling, a policy the EU requires for fairer competition
    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      In other news, the Energy Industry has made a voluntary commitment to not pollute, and drug dealers have made a voluntary commitment to only sell "the bomb" and only add 15% baby laxative to white heroin. And prostitutes have made a voluntary commitment to not fake orgasms.

    • I think what we have here is more of a opportunity from the regulator. Essentially the ISPs are encouraged to play nice and have the regulator give them some leeway, otherwise the regulator will decide how the game will be played. Regulators in European nations are usually more effective than their North American counter-parts, based on what I have seen.

    • Self regulation works wonders in a free market, however wired internet providers are often monopolies, often enforced by law, at least they are here in the USA, it's often illegal to lay down new fiber next to a competitor, just like it is for telephone lines and power lines. So obviously after the free market is completely destroyed, and regulation is entirely necessary.

      This was why Verizon ans Google didn't wanna bother with regulating wireless, since there is still competition between at least 4 big com

    • Entertainment Software Rating Board [wikipedia.org]?

      I understand a lot of self regulation has failed, but it can work if there is fear of external regulation.
    • by Mr_Silver (213637)

      Self regulation is just toothless regulation, basically letting a business say, 'ya.. thats kind of a cool idea.. and if it's convenient i might consider it'

      Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

      The most effective form of self regulation (here in Europe, at least) is when Governments say to companies "sort out some sort of self regulation quickly that we think is reasonable - or we'll do it for you and you'll accept it whether or like it or not".

      Although I admit that this isn't so much "self regulation" more "coerced

      • The down side of this is that it lets the government enforce regulation without appearing to. For example, in the UK we have all of the major ISPs 'voluntarily' subscribing to the IWF's block list. Because the IWF is not a government body, it is completely unregulated and unaccountable. If you complain about this to your MP, you get a reply back saying that the government does not censor the web - ignoring the fact that the ISPs only do because they were told that the government would enforce censorship
  • by Anonymous Coward

    the principal of treating all internet traffic as equal

    Who is this guy, and how can we give him power over the entire internet?

  • by unity100 (970058) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @07:58PM (#35448786) Homepage Journal
    It has worked very well with Union Carbide, Goldman Sachs, BP, and many more.

    really. it works ..... it works because organizations founded purely on the principle of profit, act against their potential profit, and think about the public first. they have high moral and ethical standards. and if they fail, they are accountable. because, corporations arent 'people', and the perpetrators of the failure can be punished. They never can just ditch the haywire corporation, and just start a new one with the immense profits - no, our system prevents that - you, sir, are accountable for all of your actions. you should remember that.

    or, maybe these are only true in an alternate reality, and in the world we lived in, opposite of all of the above holds true.
    • by chrylis (262281)

      If they're held responsible for the effects their actions have on the public, it can be amazing how quickly they respond. Give financial firms bailouts and limit the liability of oil companies, and then don't be surprised if they act irresponsibly.

      • by microbox (704317)
        They are bailed out and excused because they are too big to fail. I don't think there is any way around that. However, the public should be able to demand scalps from within the company. Incompetence is not an excuse when it costs so many people so much. These people should be very concerned about the public good when they make decisions in a business that is too big to fail. I have no doubt that the real brass will create fall-guys and scape goats to cover for them, which is why we need a strong independen
        • by chrylis (262281)

          "Too big to fail" is utter nonsense. Make it clear that no business is going to get bailed out, and then let the failures fail.

          Regulators always end up working more for the regulated industries than the public at large; it's known as regulatory capture and is a predictable result of the fact that the regulated industries spend lots of time lobbying the regulators on the specific issues while the public at large is too busy paying attention to Charlie Sheen.

          • Yeah, it is insane. If a business reaches the mythical "to big to fail" status then it should either be subjected to intense scrutiny to ensure that some wanker at the wheel isn't presiding over the next bank crash, or just nationalise the damn thing.

            • by chrylis (262281)

              Nationalizing it just ensures that some wanker will be at the wheel. Make it known that a crash means that the shareholders take a bath, and you'll get some serious scrutiny from institutional and other big players.

            • by Belial6 (794905)
              If they are "too big to fail", then they are "too big to exist". Any company that is too big to fail should be split up for redundancy's sake.
    • by ShakaUVM (157947)

      >>It has worked very well with Union Carbide, Goldman Sachs, BP, and many more.

      Well, I'm pretty sure that net neutrality one way or the other isn't going to gas and kill an entire town's worth of Indians, hyperbolic debate aside. You should also realize that India had a 49% stake in Union Carbide, so your socialist belief about "government-run industries being more responsible" is complete bullshit. The USSR was the very worst nation on earth for the environment.

      Voluntary self-regulation is typically

      • The USSR was the very worst nation on earth for the environment.

        And now China is polluting so much it travels all the way to Montana.

        Voluntary self-regulation is typically a step an industry will take to prevent the government from regulating them. Oftentimes, the government actually prefers this, and will only step in to regulate if the industry fails to police itself. This threat is often good enough to keep the industry in line.

        Citation needed. I have yet to see any voluntary regulation work on any corporation when profits are at stake.

        • by ShakaUVM (157947)

          >>Citation needed. I have yet to see any voluntary regulation work on any corporation when profits are at stake.

          If the ESRB isn't a good example for you, then you can look at most professional sports leagues (FIFA, MLB, NFL, etc.) that regulate themselves to avoid having the government do it for them.

          They seem to make plenty of money.

          • The Sports leagues have an incentive to keep games fair and sportsmanlike for the fans so its not really self-regulation in the sense that they are in danger of being regulated. I suspect sports leagues would be self-regulating without any government pressure. ESRB is a good example. However, do you really think that ISP or any telecom company will opt-in to net neutrality when there are buckets of money to be made by behaving in a monopolistic or oligopolistic way? I don't think so.
            • by ShakaUVM (157947)

              >>The Sports leagues have an incentive to keep games fair and sportsmanlike for the fans so its not really self-regulation in the sense that they are in danger of being regulated. I suspect sports leagues would be self-regulating without any government pressure.

              Well, yeah. Voluntary regulation doesn't mean there's no incentive to do so.

              >>However, do you really think that ISP or any telecom company will opt-in to net neutrality when there are buckets of money to be made by behaving in a monopolis

    • What boggles my mind, is that the blood of the wealthy classes hasn't been running down the streets if so many people feel the way you do. I am speaking metaphorically, I do not advocate killing people. There comes a point when you have to realize that the majority of Americans feel the same way you do and probably vote along the same lines as you, and yet these politicians who cater to big business keep getting re-elected or new ones come in. Its true, Congress has record low approval ratings by the averag
    • I don't even know where to start with how poor your analysis is. Those companies were prevented from being regulated by the free market precisely because the government stepped in, well besides Union Carbide, but they got sued to the tune of almost $1 billion and that prevented who knows how many future incidents.

      Goldman Sachs was selling derivatives, marketable because of the demand created by Fanny and Freddy, and had a huge market in large part because Glass–Steagall was repealed (so now any bank

    • The people getting rich from making stuff I want are the people that don't think about me? Nobody forced me to buy their product, yet I'm sure you want the government to forcefully take my money and waste it on something.

      So if they guess wrong and lose money, they should not only go bankrupt, but each new successful business they create, be it changing the name/product or whatever, they should be chased down for their failure. The risk of hiring people and creating jobs does not always work out, and if i

  • This is the first resolution that I feel is a good idea. LET THE MARKET DECIDE, not politicians and not CEOs. If a company signs up for Traffic Management Transparency, and is subsequently throttles their bandwidth based on data content, the lawsuits will make the cost savings of their throttling irrelevant. If another company publicly refuses to adhere to the TMT guidelines while remaining economically viable then the market has spoken. PLUS, since it's a voluntary code of practice it can be implemente
    • If we set the establishment letting politicians decide, we'll eventually get "priority tiers" with things like "crucial news" and "infotainment" and "incendiary soapbox," and Fox News and NPR will keep switching buckets with each swing of the pendulum. ~
    • Guess what? The CEO's and Politicians ARE the market. They control everything, but grant you some illusion that you have as much of an ability to achieve what they achieved in their life so you believe its all fair. Do you seriously think that a collection of day-traders moves the market? Human beings are random and irrational, and they do things perpendicular to eachother all the time. What occurs in market pricing most of the time is Brownian motion, which is basically totally random and extremely difficu
  • First off, it seems like the title of this /. article is a bit misleading; they seem to be agreeing to traffic-shaping transparency, not necessarily neutrality.

    But let's say there was a neutrality provision put in place prohibiting traffic shaping. Under those rules, how would providers ration service if total usage was regularly exceeding their capacity? If they beef up their networks enough to accommodate the consumers eating bandwidth at >= 80% of their downstream speed (a group that may well grow i

    • But another user might like to have 10Mb downstream speeds available, though he rarely exceeds 3GB in monthly usage. Shouldn't that guy be able to buy a plan that limited Hulu, Netflix and torrent speeds but gave him his 10Mb speeds for nearly everything else?

      Why would this person need 10Mb ever? "Unlimited" internet means bandwidth limited to the maximum speed. Unlimited freedom means freedom to do stuff under the constraints of reality.

      • What does it matter why? Maybe he wonders why anyone would need 800MB in a month, ever. Maybe he likes to get his 10MB attachments quickly. I have a 50MB connection st work, and it's fantastic, noticeably better even for the frequent small downloads I do there. I would love if they had the same speeds available for less money given a usage cap.

        The point is, why does anyone need to impose a universal system that takes this sort of freedom away from others?

    • by guruevi (827432)

      The reason (once again) why these types of 'contracts' shouldn't exist is because they'll end up being very one-sided. They are already one sided because you have NO CHOICE. It's either Provider 1 Residential or Provider 1 Commercial and if you're lucky you may have Provider 2 who has a totally different infrastructure.

      The Internet is becoming a utility like electricity, postal mail, gas or water. There is no artificial limit on my water, my mail or my electricity because I live slightly farther away or bec

      • So is your issue more with having only one choice, or is it more with people and corporations being able to enter willy nilly into contracts you think are less mutually beneficial than they do? For example, would you withhold the regulation mandate for WiMax providers?

        The funny thing is, the sort of thinking that says "companies must be forced to provide x because they are the only choice" is exactly what delays people from actually having another one. It helps keep competition to a minimum. People consid

        • by guruevi (827432)
          So is your issue more with having only one choice, or is it more with people and corporations being able to enter willy nilly into contracts you think are less mutually beneficial than they do? For example, would you withhold the regulation mandate for WiMax providers? Both - first of all, most people are stupid and don't know what they enter into which is not bad unless you are impacted. You may have noticed that as a collective, society is locking itself into these contracts even for those who don't want
          • We can definitely agree that there are deficiencies in the menu of current offerings; the market isn't perfect and never will be. At the end of the day we both want the fastest service possible with the most choice for the least cost. I just think that prior experience in most other industries suggests that less regulatory intervention brings that about faster than political micro-managing does. Our differences of opinion aside, thanks for a thoughtful conversation on the topic.

            They should follow those and try to be competitive against others to fulfill those needs instead of spending their money on bribing officials to lock down the market and waging war against new businesses.

            I wholeheartedly agree, and t

  • So in a country that people deride as stereotypically socialist, net neutrality is accomplished voluntarily, whereas in the purportedly "free market" U.S., the government tried to coerce ISPs to do this. What's wrong with this picture?
    • So in a country that people deride as stereotypically socialist, net neutrality is accomplished voluntarily, whereas in the purportedly "free market" U.S., the government tried to coerce ISPs to do this. What's wrong with this picture?

      We tend to regulate here in the U.S. 'cuz we have a much more highly-developed corporate organism whose ability and willingness to consume anything - from human beings to the planet itself - has been on exhibition continuously for over 100 years.

      (Doesn't that sound better than America has displayed a startling capability for breeding a scummier, greedier subspecies of humans?)

    • The UK is stereotypically socialist? In which universe?

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