back to article UK.gov backs ISPs on charging content providers, throttling P2P

The government today rejected any prospect of US-style "net neutrality" laws to prevent ISPs from charging online content providers for traffic prioritisation, or from restricting bandwidth-hungry protocols such as BitTorrent. In his Digital Britain report, Lord Carter said givings ISPs the ability to charge for guaranteed …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    SO has Britain innovated anything in the last 100 years?

    I'd say pretty much "no", at least as compared to the US. Maybe Lord Carter should leave the 19th Century.

  2. Doug Glass
    Go

    The Fat Lady ...

    ... is clearing her throat.

  3. Shane Orahilly
    Thumb Down

    The Old Argument.

    "Ofcom has in the past acknowledged the claims in the debate but have [sic] also acknowledge that ISPs might in future wish to offer guaranteed service levels to content providers in exchange for increased fees."

    No mention of offering guaranteed service levels to the paying consumer who wishes to view said content.

    I wonder if said content providers could have their fees reduced if the consumers cannot obtain their product due to the ISP failing to deliver the bandwidth and speed advertised...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NN comment looks weirdly out of place

    That comment on p22 of the report looks very out of place coming as it does just after action number 2 on access to ducts. It must have been cut and paste it from someplace else - or his old buddies in Oftcom pulling a fast one and avoiding work.

    It looks an accidental edit. The US NN debate is badly run - it mixes mis-selling, openess and a belief in infinite peak hour capacity. The UK should focus on transparency of service parameters and pushing ISP to publish planning rules in the T&C, while they learn how to assure services.

    I am not sure the authors would have enclosed this if they understood it - must be a mistake.

    There are too many other good things in this report to destroy it with what looks like a mistake.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    net

    Net neutrality has always seemed weird to me, however what has to happen is that ISPs must tell you what each package includes.

    If it say UNLIMITED BROADBAND £10.99 A MONTH! Then they should have to give unlimited broadband 24/7/12.

    I think what we really need in this country is a "NO MORE BULLS**T" Campaign. Tell us the truth, you buy £10.99 toilet water broadband, only gets interwebs, streaming don't work, live with it, IWF filtered phorm enabled web browsing.

    Should be the same with laws just announce "We're f---ing you and your future and there's nothing you can do becouse the Tories all do the exact same becouse we're all in it together!"

    Wonder if they'll block propper file sharing apps like winny, share and perfectdark.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In other words

    The government want leased lines for everybody with guaranteed QoS. Have they any idea how much they cost? It isn't simply going to be a case of an extra £5-10 per month

    Please can everyone sign the petition to force an immediate general election so we can force Brown and his monkeys out of office.

    http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/GoToCountryNow/

    In theory, in a democracy, once the population has had enough of an incompetent government they can demand an election regardless of how long the term in office still has to run.

    In practice we know Brown doesn't consider the public important enough to listen to and will continue to twist the law as long as he can to get the maximum amount of time before the law states an election must be run

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    (untitled)

    So long as I can opt for no iPlayer at £0 / month that's cool.

    But I bet a pound to a pinch of shit it won't be like that.

  8. Sean Ellis
    Stop

    Unaccountable censorship by the back door

    If a service's users generate bandwidth, then charge the users for bandwidth. Don't start discriminating based on protocol, content or address, or trying to charge both ends of the chain.

    Under the proposed scheme, I see a situation where any service could be slowed down to the point of unusability, if the ISP in question fancies that they can blackmail it into paying for delivery (BBC), or if it is not playing ball with their advertisers (dephormation.org.uk), if it's competing with their other businesses (VOIP) or if they simply don't like what it says (anything).

    Where's the accountability in all this? Or are we leaving it to the invisible hand of the market that has served us so well recently?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Best legislation money can buy

    it seems pretty obvious to me that the content Industry has had a massive hand in getting certain sections added (the Quango paid for by the subscriber)... they could have put in a flat download anything you like fee, but no... and the ISPs have had a hand in getting the non-neutrality added so they can charge website owners more for "guaranteed" better service...

    this whole package stinks...

    but it'll be sold as a bill or rights to "broadband" for all...

  10. hangover
    Unhappy

    eh ?

    Maybe I'm missing something here but...

    1) Won't we web-publishers just move our webhosts from UK-based to US-based ISPs? (and therefore bypass the content provider's charge). This would do for UK ISP's what the no-smoking law did to UK pubs!

    2) I pay for extra bandwidth already after being 'throttled' years ago due to my previous providers' "unlimited broadband" duplicity. So what else is new ?

  11. Steve Mason
    Black Helicopters

    Packet Inspection

    The only way to guarantee different service levels for different traffic is to use Deep Packet Inspection to see what kind of traffic is flowing. This all plays rather nicely into the hands of Phorm and collating information in the Uberdatabase.

    I'm sick to the heart of this surveillance society already.

  12. Paul Murphy

    So once we're all using Tor, then what?

    And if no-one decides to take up the ISP fascinating offers?

    And if we all decide to go for the lowest-price package that an ISP offers?

    After all why spend any more money than necessary when you won't be getting a proper service.. just because an ISP says that they are giving you a better service how can you really tell.

    ttfn

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tiered can be OK

    If I buy a 2Mbit connection but some site e.g. VOD service pays my ISP to have an 8Mbit connection to me (presumably when I am paying them for video) that is OK.

    If I buy a 8Mbit connection and the ISP wants to charge the BBC extra for high quality IPlayer e.g. 4Mbit/s that is NOT OK.

    The tiered service should always be on top of the rate already paid for by the customer.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Man in the middle deception

    Selling both ends of the pipe like they have no linkage is double selling. It only works as long as you can keep the deception going.

    If Sky pay ISPs to prioritise their packets over BBC packets, then BBC should sue Sky and the ISP for tortuous interference in business. It is no different from Microsoft paying ISPs to NOT bundle Netscape Navigator.

    The ISP is not laying new cables or any infrasture, they are simply selling priority on their existing infrastructure and the only way to do that is to downgrade others. i.e. attack their business.

  15. The Other Steve
    Alert

    Erm .....

    "unless Ofcom find network operators or ISPs to have Significant Market Power and justify intervention on competition grounds"

    Yeah, just remind me again, who owns the all exchanges, most of the the backhaul, and practically all of the the last mile copper ? Is it just one network operator ? I mean, because if it was, I think it would be pretty obvious that they would have "Significant Market Power", especially, if, say they were also the UK's largest ISP. Or is that just me ?

    The company under discussion here is already wielding it's"Significant Market Power" by using a combination of it's own QoS-a-liciuos TVOD service, streamed from it's own servers and therefore never crossing the wider internet with all the bursty traffic problems therein entailed, and extremely aggressive traffic throttling policies which kick in between 16:00 and 23:00 weekdays and which see average non http transfer speed drop from 100Kbps, which is on the the unacceptable side of slow in any case, to average 5Kbps*. Weekends are worse.

    .I'm not sure how I feel about the whole net neutrality thing, although I fail to see how making innovation more expensive will encourage it, but if Ofcom can't see that BT, the UK's practical monopoly network operator and default ISP of the masses doesn't have "Significant Market Power" then they aren't fit for purpose.

    * Some may be tempted to say that this is simply congestion at busy times, it is not, as a quick look at the traffic graph shows, transfer speeds cease to be bursty and clearly never rise above a given maximum pf 10Kbps during the entire 7 hour period. However, even assuming that I were wrong about this, and this was simply an artefact of congestion, then who the fuck do ISPs think they are to charge content providers and consumers extra for access to additional bandwidth that simply doesn't exist ? Either way is a massive fail.

  16. Neal Hawkley
    Stop

    Give us what we pay for!!!!!

    Why should content providers pay more? Take the BBC for example, as it is funded by us the licence player and delivers public service broadcasting. If the BBC had to pay to provide the service would it not end up having to either increase in the licence fee or a reduction in spend on other areas of their work???

    I agree that the consumer should get what they pay for i.e. if they sign up for "unlimited" broadband then that is what they should get. It is no good for the ISP's to go crying to Goverment or the regulator complaining that there networks are being placed under undue strain to provide such content.

    Open and transparent Pricing and T&C's from the ISP's is what is required. With a guarantee that they will deliver the service paid for 24/7/365. Then the consumer can decide what they want and what they don't and pay the appropiate price!!!!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    anyone?

    anyone know of a good country to move to for a sysadmin with datacenter experience?

  18. jason
    Unhappy

    Oh well....

    ....thats iPlayer use over for me. I thought I paid for that service already, not going to pay for it again.

  19. Ash
    Thumb Down

    iPlayer?

    Who cares about quality?

    The only quality difference i've noticed between normal and high quality iPlayer is I need to turn down the volume on the latter.

    Rubbish.

  20. Bill Gould
    Gates Halo

    Why play ball?

    Why should the BBC play with the ISP's? Work a sweet deal with on or two ISP's and simply do not service the others. "They charge too much to deliver out service at a reasonable speed." Simple cop-out.

    This will not create innovation, it will create back-room deals and further segregate the haves and have nots in relation to broadband performance.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Sorry, Nulab...

    ...but this will be the last straw for even your most ardent supporters. You are so voted out at the next election.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    iPlayer

    iPlayer content could be transmitted on a separate multicast network rather than clogging up the internet. Although I have to admit I doubt that there'd be enough people willing to pay for such digital television broadcasting to make it viable for the BBC to do it, unless there were some kind of bizarre tax on receiving equipment or such like...

    Broadband is so broken in Britain that I'm ditching it. It's just not worth the money.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Time for google and MS to become ISPs in the UK then

    Google will give away their ISP service, funding it from advertising which they can link to the customers account because they have the IP and customer details. They would then charge microsoft a fortune for the monthly updates!

    Microsoft will then respond in kind and launch their own ISP service so that their customers can access the cloud.

    ....and existing ISPs won't stand a chance given the size and capital of these two giants.

    Oh, hang on a minute. Few ISPs are making big profits at the moment. Perhaps this is their tactic. Get bought out by Microsoft and Google! /sarcasm

    Back to reality for a moment though, it's all about enabling UK ISPs to charge content providers for delivery of the digital media. (bbc, itv, and every other global content provider) because BT and the other ISPs can't afford the backbone.

    20 million uk people watching tv shows at the same time would generate 512kbits x 20m = 1000 x 10 gigabits. That is a lot of fibre and a lot of bandwidth. (Multi-cast can help but it doesn't solve the problem because different people are watching different shows and are at different points in the stream.)

    As the BBC iplayer adoption continues it's current growth rate, the uk internet will continue to be becomes slower and slower and more expensive/restrictive.

  24. Peter Dawe
    Thumb Down

    Tiered Service - There goes any chance of fast broadband

    How do you increase profitability when your customers use all your supply on a all-you-can-eat service? Simple,

    1) lobby the government and persuade them to implement a two class system.

    2) Set the charges for the higher system at a level where the level of users just maximises your revenues

    3) Use the low uptake figure to prove that there is no demand for a high bandwidth service.

    4) Take the extra money and don't invest!

    This is how the X.25 data services were run, until PIPEX offered IP bandwidth at 1/10th the X.25 prices

    I also learnt that trying to beat the major telco lobby at politics is impossible.

    Peter

  25. David Webb

    @AC

    AC, Google is your friend. A Japanese study of inventions in the 20th century found that the UK was responsible for over 50% of inventions that had a world wide takeup, or have you forgot important inovations like, i dunno, radar?

  26. dreadful scathe
    Thumb Down

    urk

    net neutrality is the ONLY sensible choice - gah ISPs and their false unlimited labels

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    It's all very simple

    Look, we're not getting enough of your money, so just bend over and give us some more. The pols aren't getting enough kickback from the isp's, so you're going to have to ante so they can make their payments. Nothing new here.

    Nothing to see. Move along or we'll have to tase' you bro'.

  28. John A Blackley

    Bingo!

    When I tell my friends that the UK government can be guaranteed to spoil a piss-up in a brewery, they take some convincing. Thanks you for furthering my argument.

    The point of 'net neutrality' (although, in fact, there's no such thing) is that customers get the bandwidth they pay for (or as close to it as the SP can get away with). Those poor, condemned souls who spend their every waking moment chunking huge amounts of data around the 'net pay for a lot of bandwidth. Those who use the 'net for casual entertainment and communication pay for less.

    Result? The SPs in the US have worked very hard to provide bandwidth in every possible market. That's how they make their money (not through content charging, not through 'traffic management').

    Contrast and compare with poor old Blighty - where they're just about down to regulating and taxing farts. SPs have the power and the money and so - with the Easy Purchase Plan for MPs and Lords - they get to decide how and how much they can put the screws to their customer bases.

    Brace yourselves, my British friends. You may all get 'access to broadband' but very, very few of you will be able to pay for it.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    The end of iplayer?

    iplayer is now using more bw than p2p and we know how much ISPs hate p2p !

    So as growth continues and the ISPs start charging the BBC, the been will have to start charging end users for iplayer usage

    ....or will have to reduce the amount of content available

    ....perhaps diverting funds away from programmes towards bandwidth fees.

  30. Andrew Ridge
    Stop

    TV License

    As far as I am concerned, having to pay for a TV license should cover any costs coming from the BBC, including iPlayer, being that it pays for the content rather than the medium on which that content is broadcasted.

    It would only take a year or 2 for a HDD freeview recorder to pay for itself if they are talking about charging £20 a month for a better service, and even then I am only considering the BBC, and not the other multidudes of (mostly crap) channels on freeview.

  31. Ken Hagan Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    Re: Packet Inspection

    "The only way to guarantee different service levels for different traffic is to use Deep Packet Inspection to see what kind of traffic is flowing. This all plays rather nicely into the hands of Phorm and collating information in the Uberdatabase."

    Sadly, there is another way. Once everyone starts using encrypted channels to bypass the deep packet inspector, the ISPs will start throttling by source address. At *that* point, it will no longer be possible to view news.bbc.co.uk, not because *that* page is a bandwidth hog, but because the BBC also have the iPlayer elsewhere on the site, so *.bbc.co.uk will be added to the blacklist.

    Of course, any ISP with half a clue could do better than that, but where would we find one of those?

  32. Joe K
    Thumb Down

    Fire that man

    £20 a month to watch crappy BBC repeats, stuff that gets repeated ad nauseam on BBC3 anyway?!

    Jesus, that man obviously has no concept of money.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing but vested interests

    It seems to me that this report includes requirements from ISP's, content providers, record companies, movie studios and central government. In fact the only people I don't see represented here are the public - the poor bastards who use the internet.

    The article quotes Carter as saying the debate on net neutrality has been stronger in the US than in the UK. Well is that any surprise? What has Carter or the Government done to initiate any debate on neutrality? Do they even give a shit?

    Once again the Government proposes a structure of control, regulation, QUANGO's, charges/taxes and pandering to a range of commerical interests almost to the exclusion of the consumer. Absolutely bloody typical of New Labour.

  34. Julian Bond
    Thumb Down

    Competition

    Almost shocked that I'm suggesting this, but how about we let the market decide. LLU and BT wholesale was supposed to encourage a competitive marketplace for ISPs. If that actually works and we have enough regulation on truthiness in advertising then the whole net neutrality debate becomes moot. ISPs that limit bandwidth or throttle protocols will then fade as more open ISPs take their business.

    Now can someone explain why BT are forced to offer LLU and wholesale bandwidth but Virgin cable isn't?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Why are people suprised?

    the is the Gov that introduced the M6 toll. You know, that road where each year, as the numbers using it fall, the price goes up, making it a fast road for those that can afford it.

    The rest of us peasants sit in traffic jams.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Dysfunctional / Anti-Competitive...

    How exactly does a restrictive measure "encourage" innovation. This will stifle innovation creating a dysfunctional UK broadband network that leaves its users unable to compete in the innovation race against nations that have fast uninhibited access.

    Sounds to me like another punitive measure by paranoid 20th century media corps fearful of losing their grip on tightly controlled distribution channels.

    What is required is for the media companies to update their business models to keep pace with technology rather than forcing a doomed last-stand attempt at restricting the pace of technological change.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Julian Bond

    >Now can someone explain why BT are forced to offer LLU and wholesale bandwidth but Virgin cable isn't?

    BT's network was built with public money.

  38. Eddie Edwards
    Boffin

    @ AC US Troll

    "SO has Britain innovated anything in the last 100 years?"

    NOT really. Only the entire fields of computer science and cybernetics, and the most commercially successful microprocessor architecture in the world. We should stop pretending to be relevant.

  39. Graham
    Thumb Down

    Charging from the wrong end

    I fully expect tiered services to kick in some day. Some ISPs already charge per Gb, and some have different rates for different times of day. It's to be expected. But the charges need to be to the user, not the content provider. Let me decide if getting a good quality service to content x/y/z is important to me. If it is, then I'll (have to) pay. Charging the content provider means I have to find an ISP that's in bed with providers x, y AND z. If they are niche providers there might not be such an ISP and now I can't get all the content I want.

    This stifles innovation in high-bandwidth services because new players in the market must strike deals with at least all the major ISPs before they stand a chance. That's going to be expensive. So we'll just have to put up with content from the big guys and the little startups just can't get in the game.

    Rupert Murdoch must be loving this.

  40. G Murphy
    Stop

    Bad bad bad, unless...

    ...there are provisions for minimum quality of service in legislation.

    I have no problem with charging people more for heavy bandwidth use/guaranteed bandwidth and QoS, as long as it doesn't affect the consumer in any way other than positively. As far as I can see, this is what we should be going for, a legal minimum service which must be provided by consumer (and business) users.

    I would suggest a distinct lack of throttling and all broadband contracts to have a guaranteed 24/7 minimum bandwidth, e.g. 200kbps download on a 2mb line etc.

    Exclamation because this will need a lot of public pressure, but why should it always be the large companies that get their way, where is the upside for us!

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Charging for i-Player

    So the BBC is in favour of charging for i-Player. Doe that mean I no longer need to pay my licence fee??

  42. Neil Hoskins
    Thumb Up

    Does this mean...

    ...that the torrenters and freetards will all fuck off to the 'States? Oh, I do hope so.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    UK is not competitive

    We have been a very affluent state in the past, which has led to arrogance and the government attitude to all this shows extreme arrogance... having a second rate broadband network where you bribe the different carriers to take your content is more like the third world country we are becoming.

    I'd be taking my business elsewhere, like europe, the US, Russia, Asia, India...

    Also if the BBC thinks they are getting anything on top of the license fee, then they can go F*** themselves. I am getting rid of my tv anyway, too many repeats and adverts.

  44. Mike Richards Silver badge

    No surprise here

    Andy Burnham is so far up the music industry's arse that he could be their dentist.

    BTW. Does he remind anyone else of Una Stubb's timeless interpretation of Aunt Sally in Worzel Gummage?

    http://www.andyburnham.org/galleryimages/full4.jpg

    (Warning twin tw*t action)

  45. Dan
    Thumb Down

    I would have thought.....

    ,,,, forcing net neutrality, thus creating a starting point of an even field of a higher (ie not throttled back) service would create even more innovation 'cos companies would really have to go above and beyond to differentiate themselves. If biased traffic patterns become standard due to greedy companies, a company offer a neutral traffic model will become unusual and "innovative". It's almost creating the potential for fake innovation spin.

  46. dek
    Coat

    Out of retirement...

    ...to sign the petition calling for a general election. I consider No 10's petitions a waste of time but here's hoping.

    That's Brown rooting through my pockets for the last of my pennies.

  47. darkmooink
    Alert

    licence fee

    why are people saying "I've already paid my licence fee why should i have to pay again?"

    it is the isp's that are saying pay more, it should be "ive already paid for my internet why should i have to pay again?"

  48. Simon Neill
    Flame

    @Julian Bond

    "Now can someone explain why BT are forced to offer LLU and wholesale bandwidth but Virgin cable isn't?" because BT was originally publicly funded to be the country's only telecom network. Virgin has only ever been a private company and also has maybe 50% coverage.

    I think the whole thing is ludicrous. Should I pay £20/month to watch the two or three things I watch on iPlayer? the same £20 that someone who watches it 5 hours a day would pay? What if I want to watch one iPlayer show, a few youtube vids, download an update from steam, try out a few demos....am I going to have to pay a seperate fee for each of those next?

    Why is google mentioned? the google search and e-mail pages can't be that big....sure they are hit a lot but that comes under BROWSING to me. If you need to charge people for google searches you don't qualify as an ISP to me.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    as in life as on the net

    well there it is the class divide on the net if they get there way ..poor mid and high class just depends what you can spend ...

    pay pay pay

    just go's to show what the goverment really thinks keep the poor poor and the rich rich ...

  50. Tom Silver badge

    Innovate?

    How about p2p over html - oh thats not innovation thats already been done.

    Or how about people sharing over bluetooth.

    Or more sensibly how about kicking the parasitic music industry into touch?

    We have the internet I can buy direct from the musician go away and die.

  51. Robert E A Harvey
    Stop

    a pox on them

    "the ability to charge for guaranteed service levels to content providers - - could promote innovation and investment in networks"

    That's a hell of an innovation, getting both ends to pay instead of one. I thought I was already paying for a service good enough to use these providers. I'll want a hell of a price cut when this comes in.

    Just where to the government expect 'providers' to get the money? They will charge me, that is what they will do, and everyone will be worse off

    aBstrads the lot of them

  52. Ross Fleming Silver badge
    Coat

    @AC re: net

    "If it say UNLIMITED BROADBAND £10.99 A MONTH! Then they should have to give unlimited broadband 24/7/12."

    I'd be looking for 24/7/52 myself, but whatever floats your boat :-P

    Unless you just want unlimited broadband on the 24th July in 3 years time :-)

    </pedant>

  53. Haku
    Thumb Down

    Genius!

    Because the only tv everyone watches are programmes from the BBC...

    How long before someone figures out a way of blocking access to BBC programmes, therefore enabling people to not pay for a tv licence? on that day the BBC will become just like all other channels, adverts splattered all over the shop.

  54. James
    Pirate

    @AC, RE: Tiered can be ok

    If you buy 2mb you will only ever get 2mb on services / protocols that the ISP deem to not be bandwidth hogs. You'll never get more than YOU pay for. Your ISP might just not throttle content providers as much, making the higher quality service available to you if you're also willing to pay for it.

    So if you pay for 2 mb, on services such as bittorrent, nntp (usenet), and other p2p you'll only get 2mb if your isp only have, say 10 broadband users online, more likely you'll never get 2mb because that service will fall into a lower tier and therefore priority will go to users doing other things which are not considered to be bandwidth hogs.

    Typically when implementing QOS on a network you start off by prioritising mission critical services and deprioritising the least important services that hog bandwidth. So what you'll end up with is webmail, social networking and news sites being insanely fast as I imagine these are the majority websites most broadband users access regularly. Youtube and other video / high bandwidth sites will then take a back seat as no prioritisation will be applied to those services and then the you'll have the dog slow services like p2p being throttled to hell and back.

    Of coarse, being a broadband user you'll already be taking a back seat to people / companies paying for dedicated bandwidth (Leased lines etc) who I imagine will be exempt from the tiered network as they are actually paying for their bandwidth.

    In short, broadband will just not be the same, and we'll all go back to free 56k dial-up because there will be no point in having 50meg broadband just to read your email faster. Because lets face it, the only reason you want 50mb is so that those DVDs can download in 10 minutes rather than 400 mins on 2mb.

    I don't think I need to explain the pirate flag.

  55. Heff

    "promoting competition"

    It will, absolutely. stupid ISPs will attempt to implement some kind of tiered access charging, and everyone, en masse, will switch over to the first ISP that thinks it can offer an untiered service.

    It'll be another mini-meltdown of the UK internet infrastructure in the same way that LLU spawned a million resellers that crashed and burned and were eaten up by successful companies, or ones that had bigger backing. I cant help but feel the government expects some sort of cottage-industry internet access to be viable, but it simply isnt; its a telecoms market, and as anyone with even the slightest experience in telecoms can tell you; if you're not big, go home. Britain itself is stuck with a serious problem; digging up roads to lay cables is cripplingly expensive, we wont authorise building relay towers because of nimbys. You have to be big to deal with the infrastructure support. you cant just build a high-power 3/4G tower attach it to the backbone and then rake in the cash; our population is too dense, and we have a habit of living in houses made of 300-year old quarried stone, 3 feet thick and impenetrable to casual EMF.

    So, heres where I see the tiering happening, after the dust settles;

    Tier 1 : low access broadband. 1mbit/s, reset flags and packet shaping, perhaps at-ISP-Blacklisting of sites, capped download limits.

    Tier 2 : Marketed as a silver-service, Faster internet, packet shaping during peak hours, raised download limit

    Tier 3 : Platinum! high-speed fibernet, no packet shaping, no download cap, no whitelisting/blacklisting.

    Telcos want you on T3. they can whine about the difficulty of making money, when everyones downloading shit, but the truth is its easier and cheaper than trying to maintain the customer support raft to field "why cant I access the BBC?" "why cant I listen online" 24/7. with everyone on Tier3, they dont have to monitor, keep records, or dick with you at all. their responsibility comes down to keeping you connected.

    When Tier 3 is established, telcos will begin a bidding war, using T1 and T2 to subsidise their high-end package, trying to make it cheaper than their rivals. t3 will be an expensive loss-leader. Telcos will cut prices of T3 and introduce a T4 package with a higher fee and a hopeful revenue stream, to further subsidise the uptake of T3 packages. T1 and T2 will merge, like metered and unlimited dialup did.

    some spod in the larger telcos will put forth a plan that allows the telco to sell all their packages at a loss, on the understanding that once they push past Xmillion customers, they'll make money and control the market.

    investment in the network will stop, as everyone loses money on it. we'll wait 5 years, and then we'll go through this pathetic little dance again.

    Free market forces Vs Investment In Infrastructure that nobody owns.

    ===

    @ deep packet inspection. That'll become a competition point. DPI is both difficult to set up and administer, and is currently a little dubious legally, as it walks close to running a tap on your phone.

    imagining that the government backs it as a means of catching those wily pedophiles, the people who actually have something to hide will use a greater level of encryption, to the point where they get a slower internet, with more data sent with less information in it. high-bandwidth use to the ISP, but dialup speeds to the consumer. highly undesirable.

    ===

    Frankly, Im grateful to the BBC. the iplayer has become such a monster issue for ISPs that its forcing us to restart the cycle, re-jig your subscription rates and invest in the infrastructure again. God bless progress, even if it is the same old progress again.

  56. John
    Thumb Down

    Brown out...

    Prime Minister Obama in please. The americans are talking sense and you can put that in your diary as its not often that statements comes from my lips.

    Did the gov not notice that there is a credit crunch on, and I can't see that getting any better for quiet some time, this £20 a month he mentions, just wtf does he plan we pull it from... Surely not my arse as it is already chafed from the reaming the gov gives me now.

    Nothing innovative about stinging your customers for a "new" service they already recieve, thats just the Nu Way

  57. Huw Gently
    Pirate

    "innovation" must mean something else

    The only way I can see this angle making any sense is if the sort of innovation they have in mind is the ability to create innovative new price points. Think "region coding" meets the various bastard Windows-lite versions meets upmarket barista-style order menus. This is not innovation. This is market segmentation. It's just as nefarious as a drug company marketing the same chemical under different names to treat different diseases. Maybe even more so, because the ISPs will be almost forced to analyse you and your traffic patterns in order to figure out what box they should put you in (and how to build the boxes) so as to maximise profit. It's only a hop, step and a jump from there to wholesale commoditisation of consumers, rather than commoditisation of the product, which they fear so much.

    You may mark my words, though, it will end in tears for the ISPs. The kind of innovation that they expect and crave is not the kind of innovation that customers expect and crave. There's no box big enough for the Internets. It will be fun to watch as the ISPs play the part of a certain Viking king of England. And as for the users, who can predict exactly /how/ they will thwart the ISPs' best laid plans?

  58. Law
    Unhappy

    Easy solution

    I will just stop using the internet, and paying taxes, and working, and just live on benefits... or I might just up and leave, I have a feeling though alot of people will do the same though, so it might be difficult to get countries to take us in.... I hear Poland is nice this time of year...

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    @Man in the middle deception

    I assume you mean "tortious". Tho "tortuous" has a certain cachet. If you're a tinpot dictator. Or maybe ex-leader-of-the-free-world.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    £240 a year for so called 'High Quality' via the iPlayer

    "The BBC meanwhile is seemingly warming to Carter's vision of tiered service levels, as long as the consumer carries the burden. In a recent interview, BBC iPlayer chief Anthony Rose suggested an optional high quality iPlayer charge on top of broadband subscriptions."

    "...as long as the consumer carries the [financial] burden'. If that's the case, it's surely time to get rid of the license fee altogether. By his own calculations, you'll pay the license fee plus up to an extra £240 a year for so called 'High Quality' via the iPlayer. I've always been in favour of the license fee but if this type of charging comes in I'll be in favour of a complete abolition of the license fee for the BBC.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    RIP-OFF CHARTER

    Cheers Nu-labour, right lads time to escalate the protocol wars !

  62. Turbojerry

    HQ iPlayer == Bittorrent

    As for charging content providers, the whole point of the Net is you buy an IP connection and what goes through it is dealt with according to certain rules which everyone knows and follows, if you choose not to play by the rules of the Internet you aren't supplying an Internet connection, plus of course the deep packet inspection necessary would fall foul of RIPA and EU privacy laws, I'd love to see people from the IETF pile on to uk.gov and our esteemed EU Telecoms Commissioner, Viviane Reding too. Even if this got off the ground everyone would just switch to Tor and encrypted VPNs or SSH connections anyway, so all it does is make things more difficult and expensive for the user. They don't suggest things like multicast and caching to alleviate congestion, which seems the obvious thing to do, but then why have a cheap engineers solution when you can have an expensive, slow, loophole filled solution created by corrupt politicians.

  63. Huw Gently
    Happy

    @ross fleming

    > Unless you just want unlimited broadband on the 24th July in 3 years time :-)

    That's fine so long as it's in the afternoon. They're installing the gas in the morning.

    (old Soviet-era joke)

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    @AC

    You're thinking of torturous. Though conceivably it could be tortious, tortuous AND torturous. At least if you consider slow connections painful.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bollocks to the lot of them

    If the Government is going to make us all pay a tax for downloadable content, whilst simultaniously encouraging prosecution of file-sharers, snooping on our email and web usage and forcing us to all pay for 'jobs for the boys' then why on earth should we users continue to encrpyt our web connections?

    I mean why on earth should we secure our routers when we can share connections with our neighbours and thus have a plausible defence against snoping and prosecution?

    It would be a faboulous "piss off" to these Government idiots who've prioritised business and Government well above the public who use and pay for this stuff.

    Bollocks to them - they should have consulted the public before trotting out this industry friendly rubbish. They all deserve to go down in flames with thier shitty 40 year old business models.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Time for change?

    I have not read the report nor summaries of it but my preferences are:

    For digital connectivity to be removed from elitist marketing into mainstream

    Connectivity to be viewed as much of a utility as gas, leccie, water, ...

    For a publicly owned framework to be put in place in which some enterprising organisation is appoint as steward with stewardship duties and responsibilities

    For bids to use the proposed digital framework to ditch 20th C models (ie avoid going to the highest bidder at auction as this in the main presents an inflationary tax collected by proxy and also puts user costs into elitist realms. Also note that costs passed on to end users will also attract VAT - now that is a galloping, gobbling tax on tax practice )

    For successful bids to be based on best public service provisioning at low cost to end user as evidenced by submitted business plans (this could, for example, let in BBC and ITV as ISP stewards amongst others)

  67. This post has been deleted by its author

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Content providers to pay? - Again

    Which planet are they from? The last time I looked at hosting options, top of the list of features that were charged for separately was which tier of bandwidth your host connected to. The more you were prepared to share that bandwidth with other sites hosted on the same rack, the less you had to pay for bandwidth. Go over your allocated share of bandwidth and you start to pay for each Gb over your limit.

    Imagine the scene: a host connects via 3 or 4 backbone suppliers. Suppliers A and B charge per byte while C and D charge just once for the pipe. Guess which backbone suppliers will earn the highest revenue? Then a user from supplier A requests content which will be sent down supplier C's pipe and supplier A will want to charge supplier C for the bandwidth they are sending. If the host is international, will they be blocked from delivering to UK plc because their backbone does not want to pay the extra charge. That is the neutrality debate that they have fought in USA and they are not going to welcome some tin pot connections trying it on just because they are in another country. The internet does not work like that; traffic flows down the available route, even if that means going all the way round the globe just to deliver traffic between 2 nearby towns.

    Is the Government trying to tell us that until now, whoever hosts the iPlayer server has not had to pay for their bandwidth connection and for whatever excess usage they use? Did someone forget to put a cap on the service?

    There is something wrong with the business model here. What kind of management promotes a service that costs more than the revenue earned? If the BBC were an ice cream seller giving away free samples all day long they would record a lot of customers coming through the door but would soon be out of business.

    The BBC no long behaves like a public service. Since they added tracking scripts that share demographics with omniture I have had a choice of privacy or content. As I value my privacy I can no longer make use of many of the services the BBC web sites offer. If they start to use the same tracking for DABs then digital media will die before it is even born, and I will have to find something else to listen to during the day.

    I must be missing something here. I thought that the whole idea of going digital was so that we could have content when we wanted it. How did digital suddenly become glued to the internet when so much has been paid for the airways licences?

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Google and paying more for iplayer

    Why are Google mentioned a lot?

    1) Google owns youtube which is the most popular video sharing website on the net. The torrent sites help consumers to use more bandwidth than Google but the torrent sites don't deliver it directly. Number of users per day on the busiest torrent site might be 1m+ but youtube far exceeds that.

    2) Google already offers email, applications and some storage, but with the cloud, the amount of traffic used by using cloud applications will be quite large. Parts of the overall app, portions of user data and a lot of images will be cached into the local browser - but you have to get them there somehow. Facebook is getting seriously bw hungry already and it requires a lot of memory for all that code. Google are gonna make that look real tame compared to where they are going in the next couple of years.

    Paying more for iplayer.

    If you think it's not gonna happen, think again. The BBC made a deal with BT who already charge for this extra service when it's through their special box instead of the home computer.

    ....and BT have made no secret of their intention to become "akamai" wrt caching content at the exchange level for content providers. But they don't want to offer that service yet because they can make more from the centrals. The moment BT can make more selling these services than they can from the additional traffic on the centrals they will offer it. (ie when LLU is at almost every exchange for the big ISPs)

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    [BIG QUOTE] innovation [BIG QUOTE]

    "... might prevent this sort of innovation."

    A pile of cr@p, no matter what you call it (in this case, they chose to call it "innovation") is still a pile of cr@p. They can't force the ISPs to raise the quality of service so they lowered the standards, poured perfume and sang praises such as "innovation". sigh.

    Why not just force the ISPs to reveal the true quality of service the customer must expect. Obviously, this'll reveal that consumers are connected to 56K lines (probably improvement since during the 56K era, the lines are still burst-mode) and consumers services are burst-based (business are supposed to have CIR/Guaranteed Bandwidth, but as far as Canada goes, [major] ISPs screw everyone). Oh yeah, they can't: this is how things have been before and ISPs are throwing money to government officials.

    I may not leave in an "industrialized" country, but at least there is no pretense here on the quality of service common.

  71. Gritzwally Philbin
    Pirate

    The Customer Is ALWAYS Right.

    All this hue and cry.. and not one post mentioning the dreaded word: Boycott..

    If these laws guarantee you crap service, start pulling out the poison pens and telling the lot, starting with the CEO's of these firms, just WHY you won't be coming back as a customer.

    Then if they blow you off, CANEL the service, and if you've a cable teevee package, cancel that as well. As I'm an American, I'm not sure how your BBC teevee fee is paid, but if you mail your televisions to the Beeb HQ with letters saying they can keep the televisions - you've found something better to do with you time and money..

    Get the picture?

    Television is not a NEED.

    Wireless Phones are not a NEED.

    The internet is not a NEED.

    This legislative crap happens because the government has rightly sussed out that you'll pay anything to keep these conveniences in your lives. Surprise the greasy lot of them and prove that odious notion of theirs wrong. Once the profit margins start to nosedive and the business taxes start to diminish - believe me, they'll snap to quickly enough.

    After all, this is just *business*, and YOU have to be more cutthroat than the competition.

    Are you -professional- consumers or not?

    Deb.

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Big surprise

    So ISPs get a green light to do as they will with customers; what a huge suprise. What a shame that, in it's desire to innovate the bejesus out of milking the public, the goverment doesn't also take into account the views of those other than the industry big hitter. Or are we not trusted to say the right thing "on message"?

    ISPs now have official approval to (cartel like) throttle every protocol going, and with a resigned, apologetic shrug tell us we can have our unfettered access back for a few quid per protocol.

    I'm sick to the fucking teeth of the "innovation" this country does these days; Brunel and his Dad gave us magnificent engineering, Fleming gave us antibiotics, Frank Whittle the jet engine. Smug pricks like Carter and his 'innovative" mates give us a world beating recession and a throttled internet.

    Golgafrincham Ark 'B', the lot of 'em.

  73. J Scott Marcus

    Net Neutrality in the UK is not the same as in the US

    The network neutrality issue is viewed differently in the UK (and Europe generally) versus the US because (1) the markets are different and (2) the regulatory systems are different.

    Price discrimination per se is not problematic. It is problematic in the US because it is linked there to market power -- very few Americans have a meaningful choice of more than two broadband providers (one telco and one cable operator). Europeans, thanks to a more robust regulatory framework and despite a relative lack of cable deployment, have far more options. Competition at the broadband level tends to inhibit anticompetitive deviations from net neutrality.

    European regulators have a wide range of regulatory and competition law tools to deal with problems if they were to emerge. In the US, regulation (e.g. sections 201-202) is largely ineffective because broadband access has been inappropriately classified as an unregulated information service; competition law is ineffective due to court decisions (Trinko, Goldwasser).

    We explain this in our recent WIK research report on network neutrality, co-authored with my colleagues Ken Carter and Christian Wernick (in English!). The paper tries to explain to Europeans why network neutrality manifests itself so differently in Europe than in the US. It is available for download at:

    http://www.wik.org/content/diskus/Diskus_314.pdf

    There is also a fine paper (reaching similar conclusions) from a couple of years back by Prof. Martin Cave (Warwick) and Pietro Crocioni (Ofcom).

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Utility

    The internet is a utility in the same way as your gas and electricity. You should pay a monthly service charge to be connected or even be given the connection free at HIGH SPEED to make it available to everyone, then pay for what you use. I don't download film, I don't watch iPlayer, I don't download music, I don't use P2P. I do download a lot of very large software files legally and paid for, so I would expect to pay extra bandwidth for that.

    If you choose to go for bandwidth hogging browsing style, pay for it. Why should I pay for you to use the internet to download your bit-torrents you f**king freetards.

    It's the freetards who will kill the internet! Unless the UK Government get there first.

  75. Dr. Mouse

    Skipped

    a load of the comments coz I dont have time to read em, but heres my 2p worth.

    THE ISP IS A PIPE! Or at least should be. It's only job is to provide a connection to the internet. It should not decide what we can or cant see, how fast certain things are allowed to go, which bits are important. They should provide a link into the network, full stop.

  76. Why

    Save the net!

    http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/save-the-net/

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    @Utility

    Thing is, the "freetards" use the pipe the way they use it becouse that was what they were sold.

    You get sold a 8meg connection and the say it's unlimited, well, you use it how you like, you paid for it, you were told it was unlimited. It isn't the "freetards" fault that they were sold this.

    Fact of the matter is that the problems felt by low use consumers arn't the fault of "freetards" but the fault of the ISPs that over sold their product, and they did so becouse they were scared of not getting new consumers onto the books.

    It's stupid people like yourself, in league with ISPs, and government constantly passing the buck from one faceless monster to the next. Fact is ISPs made a claim, it ain't the "freetards" fault, it ain't the low use persons fault, it's the governments and ISPs fault. Becouse the government should have stopped the ISPs from overselling their product. Sadly it's stupid people, ISPs and governments who like to blame "freetards" for all their woes, just like those idiots at music and movie companies. Wake up and lay the blame where it belongs.

    The reason people don't buy as many films and songs as the media companies would like is becouse most of them arn't good enough and they arn't as easy to get ahold of as people would like.

    The reason people download loads of stuff on their "unlimited" internet connections is becouse they were sold "unlimited" internet connections.

    It's the marketing peoples, the isps, the "regulators" and the governments fault. But stupid people are also responsible for not placing blame where blame belongs in the never ending quest to go "eee look at me I'm so hard done by and it's all their fault."

    You can't go changing the rules of the game so late in the day. It's like the mobile sims that have free calls all day becouse of the origonal Orange deals, you can't just whip em away you said free calls every evening free for life so you got em.

    As an aside I pay alot of money for my internet connection and it's capped, becouse I've never bought into the bulls--- idea of £10 unlimited broadband.

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Anon Posters response to @utilities post

    First of all you don't buy an 8mbps broadband service from your ISP - you buy "up to" what bit of between 128k - 8mbps do you and similar people like you not understand.

    It's clear that if consumers read what they were buying they'd know this.

    The only time you have any comeback on that is when the provider states specifically "WE GUARANTEE YOU WILL GET x, y or z!).

    The fact of the matter Net Neutrality or not in this country is, to provide a decent service at a level that will allow you to download all you want, surf the web or watch online TV content at the speed and to a level of quality you so desperately need then it costs and those costs bear little resemblance to the £14.99 - £20 odd pounds that you and millions of others pay your ISP monthly for today.

    If you want all this then quite simply "you" and the rest of us internet customers of ISP's are going to have to pay for it otherwise your left with a market and infrastructure that you see today - take it or leave it because what is a fact and irrespective of the Digital Britain Report is no one is committed to paying to provide it anytime soon and why should they?

  79. Henry Wertz Gold badge

    no investment in networks

    "In his Digital Britain report, Lord Carter said givings ISPs the ability to charge for guaranteed service levels to content providers - such as asking the BBC to pay for delivering iPlayer traffic - could promote innovation and investment in networks."

    No it won't. As far as I've ever read every ISP in Britain just goes through BT (hadn't one had it's own backbone but gave it up?) ISPs charging BBC might help the ISPs from going under (due to BT's recent change from charging ISPs per-line to also charging a fee based on amount of traffic carried). But it's up to BT to invest in networks or not, BT's ALREADY being paid for traffic, it's clear to me this would therefore not affect network investment or "innovation" at all.

  80. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Anon Posters response to @utilities post

    I think you're a bit special, and you may be answering a completly different post, my post was not about the speed of connection, it was about the use of connection, and had nothing to do with the download rate. Hell beyond my origonal "you pay blah for 8meg unlimited connection" but you did prove my point about dribbling idiots.

    Now to reiterate my point,

    The marketing people said unlimited use of the broadband connection (it doesn't matter the speed it could be 512kbps or it could be 24mbps) it really doesn't matter. If the "freetard" decides to stream all day long fair enough, they've been sold an "unlimited" connection.

    Unlimited implies, the amount you can download is unlimited (barring limits set by the maximum you are capable of downloading) and that you can do it anyway you please.

    People can complain all they like (low use users, isps, government) however the ISPs sold the package and they should have to provide the package (unlimited downloads for just blah) otherwise they need to revise their packages with what they really intend on providing and allow all their users to leave without any penalties.

    I already pay a fair price for my connection, to a small company, where I am on first name terms with the very responsive, small and, capable team.

  81. bob smith

    exposing the connection

    No-one can really be that stupid can they? the idea that carter isn't somehow getting a backhand from somewhere is too hard for me to countenance...

    Someone needs to do some investigative journalism into his inbox...

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