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Posts tagged ‘telecom’

Net Neutrality revisited

Is it a good idea to enforce ‘Net Neutrality’?

Some claim an actual smoking gun hasn’t been found, though Comcast seems to be under somewhat pressure from different sides as a California court and complaints to the FCC from Public Knowledge and Vuze.

In Canada the debate is intense as well, when Matt Roberts writes about VPN, Canadian law and why some management is sensible:

“Its a bit of misnomer that if your neighbour gets QoS [Quality of Service] guarantees you’re loosing bandwidth… but I digress. Lets just say how will you know if your email is ever delayed 62 ms (milli-seconds)? You won’t, thats packet prioritization, a delay of your email in microseconds just doesn’t matter. Will you notice it during a VoIP call? possibly – again depending on how you encode it and what protocols you use. but thats why packet prioritization or what Rogers is doing, makes sense to me. QoS goes beyond just shaping and raw data guarantees. I’d personally love for Rogers [an ISP] to turn off all network management on the network for 2 days… just to see what happens.”

On VPN: Hughes is the third largest provider of IP VPN, 17.9 US market percent share, close to AT&T and Verizon (25.3% and 18.4% respectively) and, “surpassing traditional telecom heavyweights such a Spring and Qwest.” source. And this mainly by Internet over satellite.

See also VoIP VPN.

Dividing the content and the distribution markets

With the new proposed telecommunication policy reform the EU Commission encourage Members to look at ‘functional separation’ as a tool to spur competition, this is explained in the FAQ. (the excerpt is provided below).

The separation tool raises questions about the infrastructure gatekeeper discriminating certain content on the network. Fair competition requires non-discrimination.

The opposite interest of functional separation argues that a such implementation will discourage investment in the network, but as stated below this has not been the situation in the UK, on the contrary it has helped investment!

Excerpt of the FAQ

What is functional separation?

Functional separation is an instrument to ensure fair competition leading to freedom of choice for consumers in a telecoms market dominated by one operator. It requires an incumbent operator to separate its network infrastructure from the units offering services using this infrastructure. Although operationally separate business entities are created, overall ownership remains unchanged; functional separation is therefore an instrument that needs to be distinguished from structural separation which is currently being introduced in the energy sector (see IP/07/26, IP/07/29). As telecoms markets are more dynamic, functional separation allows network access to new entrants and the incumbent’s own retail division on the same terms. It gives new entrants a fair chance to build services using the incumbent’s existing infrastructure.

Will the Commission impose functional separation on every operator in the European Union?

No. The Commission proposes to give all national regulators the possibility of imposing functional separation, if they, on the basis of a sound market analysis, deem it necessary to tackle important competition problems, taking due account of the principle of proportionality and of the effect on investments by incumbents and new market entrants. Functional separation should only be used when all other regulatory tools have proved to be inadequate. To be imposed, functional separation requires the approval of the Commission and needs to take into account the effect on investment by the incumbent as well as by new market entrants.

Will functional separation not hold back investment in competitive infrastructures?

No. First of all, the experience from countries that have already introduced functional separation shows that this remedy enhances overall investment in services and in network infrastructures. In the UK, functional separation has spurred a new wave of investment and infrastructure-based market entry as evidenced by the explosion of local loop unbundled lines in UK which has jumped from less than 100,000 in June 2005 to 3.3 million by the end of October 2007. In addition, the EU Telecoms Reform requires a thorough cost-benefit analysis by national regulators before introducing functional separation. They thereby ensure that the incentives to invest for both the largest and smallest operators are preserved. By allowing common ownership of the network and service arms, functional separation will facilitate coordination of investment decisions between the services and network elements. Efficient investment by new market entrants will be supported by the fact that with functional separation, they can rely on non-discriminatory access to all bottlenecks.

Functional separation has been successful in the UK. Should all EU Member States now follow suit?

The Commission believes that functional separation is a useful tool, which in the long run will improve freedom of choice for users in markets where, for structural reasons, competition between different infrastructures fails to evolve. This positive view on functional separation is increasingly shared around the world, with regulators in the UK, New Zealand and Australia already having had concrete experience with it, while the instrument is currently considered by regulators in Sweden[1], Italy, Poland, Ireland and Spain.

However, simply because the remedy will be available does not mean it should always be applied. National regulators will always have to take into account how competitive the markets under their responsibility are. This can vary from country to country. For example, the Dutch national regulator considered that at the moment, functional separation would be inappropriate for The Netherlands, in view of evolving infrastructure competition between DSL and cable.

With the EU Telecoms Reform, the Commission wants to make sure that those regulators that see a need for choosing functional separation do so under a stable legal framework and with the backing of the Commission, using a consistent methodology and taking into account regulatory experience made in other EU markets.”

Net Neutrality in the EU

As the debate on Net Neutrality is raised to presidential candidate level in the US, Viviane Reding, from the EU Commission, presents a broad and comprehensive telecommunications policy reform. Of course they are addressing the Net Neutrality issue:

To prevent telecom providers (often the ISP’s owning backbone material) to band (or slow down data packet transfer for) certain websites – for own commercial interest – it is to put to law, that the “internet service provider must clearly inform you [the consumer, it is all about empowering the consumer!] in advance if they impose limitations on accessing certain sites.

This information will make it easier for you to decide whether you want to switch to another provider or not. National regulators will also have powers to intervene when the quality of service for transmission (which grants access to online services such as TV, telephony, internet, etc.) could be at risk.” (reference).

In the UK this regulation will probably be enough (and not too intervening in the market), because the individual resident in the UK has the option of picking among many different internet providers in the house, he is living in. But in the US, the situation is a bit different. In many areas you have only one internet provider (practically a monopoly!) which make it very hard to choose another provider, obviously. So maybe that legislation would not be enough in the US.

Another question I would like to get answered: How are we able to track these incidents of discrimination? Is it technological possible to send out packages in the network to test a raised concern in a specific relation?

Added Nov 15: Just found this article “Tracking Anonymous Peer-to-Peer VoIP Calls on the Internet” , haven’t read it yet, the abstracts says this though:

“In this paper, we present a watermark technique that could be used for effectively identifying and correlating encrypted, peer-to-peer VoIP calls even if they are anonymized by low latency anonymizing networks. This result is in contrast to many people’s perception.”

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