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ISPs and Content Providers Respond to Ofcom’s UK Net Neutrality Review

Tuesday, January 4th, 2022 (1:00 am) - Score 3,192
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Ofcom has published some of the first responses from UK broadband ISPs and internet content providers to their new review of Net Neutrality rules, which were designed to ensure no serious blocking or slowing of access to legal websites or other online services by ISPs and mobile operators. Suffice to say, vested interests split the pack.

Commentators on this issue sometimes forget that, back in 2011/12, the United Kingdom was actually one of the first countries within Europe to adopt a self-regulatory approach toward protection of the open internet (here). Indeed, those rules also provided part of the foundation for the EU’s own Directive in 2016 (here), which was later adopted into UK law.

NOTE: The current UK rules tend to be applied via a soft approach (i.e. it may be better to think of them as guidelines), which are governed by the Broadband Stakeholder Group’s (BSG) 2016 Open Internet Code. The code commits signatory ISPs to neutrality and transparency in traffic management (details).

In short, the regulation essentially means that providers cannot impose excessive restrictions against internet traffic and should treat almost all of it equally (i.e. they generally shouldn’t favour specific services, such as by blocking or slowing access). However, there are some exceptions to this, such as for when providers need to impose general traffic management, court ordered blocks or for security measures (e.g. anti-virus/spam filtering).

The rules also help to stop ISPs from favouring content sources based on who pays them the most money, which might in turn lead to a degraded experience for other users (e.g. slowing the quality of Netflix or YouTube). This typically helps to ensure that excessive access controls over content don’t result in a walled garden style internet experience.

However, some of the big ISPs have never fully given up on their desire for a relaxation of the rules, which was underlined earlier this year by BT’s predictable call for greater freedom (here). On the flip side, content providers – stretching from the BBC to Netflix – remain strongly supportive of the existing rules and are opposed to any weakening of those protections, which might shift more costs from ISPs on to their shoulders.

In short, the first responses to Ofcom’s new review, which opened in September 2021 (details), tend to reflect the historically predictable divide of vested interests between the two camps (internet content vs access providers). The regulator will no doubt find it tricky to navigate a path through such opposing viewpoints.

On top of that they’ll also need to remember the most important group of all, consumers, and the risk of creating more complications for them when choosing future packages. Today’s market is already absurdly complex, particularly with so many new alternative networks, all with varying different levels of service and coverage.

Responses to Ofcom’s Net Neutrality Review

Firstly, it’s important to reflect that the scope of Ofcom’s review is actually limited in that it is intended to inform their work in monitoring and ensuring compliance with the current Net Neutrality rules, and the operation of current guidance on complying with the existing rules. However, any changes to the core rules themselves would be a matter for UK Government and, ultimately, Parliament.

Below is a quick summary of some of the first and most interesting responses to Ofcom’s review, which helps to reflect the different, albeit often quite predictable, opinions that exist. The regulator currently expects to publish their initial findings from this review during Spring 2022. We can only hope that they continue to strike the right balance and don’t erode vital consumer protections.

BBC

The BBC’s view is, perhaps unsurprisingly, that the existing principles have resulted in “flexible rules that remain fit-for-purpose” and they’re “cautious of the risks raised by recent calls for a relaxation of the rules.” But they also warn that alternative systems have been proposed, which they fear would encourage ISPs to charge online services for fast-tracked delivery to internet users.

Extract from the BBC’s Response

“This could mean that users are no longer able to access all services at the same levels of speed or quality as today. If online service providers (e.g. the BBC, ITV, Netflix, gaming companies etc) are charged a fee by ISPs – many companies will pass the increased cost on to consumers meaning UK customers facing higher prices. The BBC would however have to divert licence fee income away from British content investment, to pay ISPs for access to audiences.

While use of the internet is growing and will continue to do so, the consequent investments that all parties involved will need to make to facilitate this does not warrant a change to the net neutrality rules. Instead, we would encourage that traffic spikes are tackled by exploring what can be done within the rules, which already allow for flexible traffic management. Further, all parties should be encouraged to work more collaboratively to manage traffic loads, given their aligned interests in delivering content and services effectively to internet users.”

We should point out that, one way or another, any increased costs from service delivery – be that on the side of the ISP or the content provider – will generally end up being passed on to consumers. The ever-rising consumption of data is one of the reasons why both ISPs and content providers raise their prices every year, to help cover the related costs.

BT

The national telecom giant has already made no secret of their desire for the rules to be changed because, they claim, “there are very good reasons to enable preferential access to certain platforms” (good for BT, perhaps, albeit possibly less so for content providers and consumers). But they’ve not previously spelt out precisely what kind of “adjusted” rules they want to see and we’re of the view that the current approach helps to keep things fair.

Sadly, BT’s response, much like a few others today, is full of vaguely defined words like “innovation” – masking the detail of what they’d actually like to do. At the same time, they appear to rehash many of the arguments from 2011, when it’s easy to forget that consumer internet traffic was already starting to be dominated by online video traffic.

In other areas they appear to suggest that customers themselves want more control over traffic, which might be true in some respects, but we’re unclear on the merits of BT’s specific argument here – as opposed, perhaps, to the ISP just delivering a good quality of service, in general.

Extract from BT’s Response

The market is also moving towards more personalisation. Connectivity is central to our customers lives, but not all customers have the same needs. Increasingly, they want unique experiences targeted at their individual preferences/usage. Customers should be empowered to decide how services are prioritised or managed over the network. For example, if they want to prioritise their streaming over non time-critical updates, or real-time QoS boosts for gamers.

The rules should recognise that not all discrimination is harmful and even within internet access services ISPs should be able to differentiate service tiers and charge accordingly for customers who are willing to pay for a premium service. This structure avoids cross subsidy by over-offering functionality to customers who do not need it.

No feedback from a consumer survey is included to support BT’s case above. Lest we forget that those stuck on slower lines often have no choice but to prioritise traffic (if you connect at sub-10Mbps then it’s easy to saturate the line with demand). But people on fast FTTP lines really shouldn’t, ideally, have or need to make such decisions over prioritisation.

BT also argues against the end users’ rights to use the terminal equipment of their choice, which to be fair, doesn’t seem to have stopped some ISPs from bundling extremely locked-down routers and obstructing customers from using a third-party device (e.g. Truespeed).

But BT might have a point when they highlight that some terminal equipment, like IoT (Internet of Things) devices, may only need limited connectivity (i.e. limited to the functionality of that device), which could be true for smaller devices (sensors etc.). However, they extend this argument to include “connectivity sold to use with a particular gaming device, smart watch, smart phone or connected device“, which is much more debatable (e.g. if “gaming device” includes an XBox or PS5 etc.). BT then concludes with the following:

Extract from BT’s Response

We welcome the breath of Ofcom’s review, the outputs of which could provide the evidence base and analysis for Government to take forward more fundamental review. In the short term we believe Ofcom can make meaningful change including as follows:

• Refresh the guidelines from scratch with a focus on innovation and consumer welfare – the current guidelines are overly complex and have sought to find new ‘problems’ to regulate.

• Interpret the legislation in a way that provides the right incentives for the wider value chain – for instance it should be permissible to treat unidentified and/or inefficiency distributed traffic below other traffic.

• Broker a code of conduct for content distribution – for instance encouraging off-peak timing of gaming updates as was agreed during the pandemic.

The idea of off-peak timing for gaming updates is interesting, but it’s a tricky one to get right across multiple countries. Lest we forget that during off-peak periods a lot of consumers will have switched-off their gaming devices (i.e. due to being at work / school etc.).

Broadband Stakeholders Group (BSG)

As overseers of the original open internet code, the BSG’s views are important. To date, and taken as a whole, the BSG “considers the existing open internet regime has worked well. Transparency and competition between providers is strong, full internet access products predominate and negative discrimination of content and services is rare.”

However, they also “recognise that some reform to Ofcom’s guidance may be necessary to sustain an open internet to its fullest possible extent.” The group points to this being driven by significantly larger future “peaks” of traffic (today surges are usually double the normal level, but by 2031 they could rise to 4x as much), IoT, 5G take-up and greater reliance on cloud-based services.

Extract from the BSG’s Response

The BSG believes Ofcom should give consideration offering further guidance to how the rules apply in three areas in particular:

• Zero-rating;

• Specialised services, where newer services such as private 5G networks and Internet Protocol Virtual Private Networks should be explicitly addressed; and

• Interoperability and good practice among value chain participants.

In all of these areas, there is now a clear need for a neutral, cross-sector forum in which more detailed examples of good practice and guidance can be developed. This is particularly important given uncertainty created by recent European Court of Justice judgments on zero rating, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications’ review of the guide-lines, and the need for a pro-innovation approach to future services.

The BSG is ideally placed to fulfil such a role via our Open Internet Forum. We therefore pro-pose to initiate a new work programme focused on ensuring that innovation and evolution flourishes within the principles of an open internet and the existing net neutrality rules.

Sadly, there’s not much detail in the BSG’s submission, thus we’re unsure of their position on VPNs. But one way or another, these areas will need to be discussed and it seems sensible for the BSG to be involved.

Channel 4

The response from C4 is short and broadly supportive of the current code, as you’d expect. But they also warn about “the concentration of market power amongst a few key firms and changes in how consumers are utilising the internet“, although they don’t name anybody and so the context is a little vague.

The broadcaster goes on to state that “relaxing net neutrality rules risks further entrenching the influence of companies who dominate consumption online and could use their market power to gain further competitive advantages, such as through paying for priority traffic.”

Channel 4 also has concerns that companies are “circumventing net neutrality rules” by offering deals for apps or services so that they do not count towards any data limits (known as “zero-rating“). They exclude beneficial zero rating from this argument, such as for emergency health services or education. We have seen a number of mobile operators offering Zero Rating features for certain streaming services and social media (C4 highlights the latter), but so far Ofcom hasn’t been overly concerned about those that remain.

Extract from C4’s Response

International evidence shows, particularly in countries with limited internet infrastructure, that zero-rating has been used to give consumers unlimited access to social media. The impact of this has been demonstrated to distort access to legal content and increase the spread of viral misinformation.

In an age of rapidly increasing online consumption, this raises important public policy questions about fair access to public service media. Firstly, that the zero-rating practice has the potential to be exclusionary as few public service media organisations have the financial resources to agree these commercial deals.

Secondly, that zero-rating has the potential to undermine PSB prominence frameworks as by their nature these deals give preferential access to certain apps and services.

In 2021, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled against zero-rating practices by Vodafone and Telekom, stating that is not in accordance with the EU’s net-neutrality law (the same one that the UK adopted). But it remains to be seen how this is actually going to be interpreted elsewhere and if it will even impact Ofcom’s thinking.

Comms Council UK

Naturally the Comms Council UK, which largely represents the wider VoIP (internet phone) sector, is strongly supportive of the existing rules and will be weary of any changes that could obstruct the services they support. “The resounding view of our membership (baring one ongoing area we consider needs a watching brief from Ofcom, backed by its powers as necessary which we discuss below) is that the Regulation has been a success and it should be left alone,” said the council.

As for the “ongoing area” of concern hinted at above, the council later notes Ofcom’s position that it “do[es] not intend to look at ‘device neutrality’ in the context of any restrictions on internet access determined by the device manufacturers and/or operating systems“. The Council says this is “ill-advised, as it risks today’s expectations of ubiquitous service reliability and will likely necessitate subsequent regulation, further disrupting the industry and its consumers.”

Extract from the Comms Council UK’s Response

In circumstances where devices are provided as an integral part of the Internet Access Service (e.g. a bundled router or handset), then we consider that the subject of device neutrality cannot simply be ignored.

Had Comms Council UK not lobbied hard for a decade on the subject, had NICC not issued a standard on SIP ALG, had the existence of the Regulation not forced EE to change its terms, and other things, it is very possible that the experience of the UK during COVID-19 lockdowns could have been very different.

Historically, routers provided by Sky to its residential customers could not be replaced without the involvement of a customer services agent (as their DSLAM authenticated based on the router’s MAC address) and interfered with over-the-top voice services. Similar historical accounts can be given for several other major internet service providers, and EE had an outright ban on its customers using competing services.

It remains to be seen whether Ofcom agrees with this, but the point does seem relevant.

ISPA

It’s important to stress that not all ISPs share the views of those who want to weaken the existing Net Neutrality rules. Indeed, the ISPA, which represents UK ISPs from a much broader cross-section of the market, notes that the “core principles of the UK’s net neutrality framework have worked well” and they see “no significant or sustained concerns” that would warrant “a more restrictive interpretation of net neutrality rules.”

Flick over the page to see more feedback from the ISPA, as well as Netflix, Three UK, Virgin Media (VMO2), Vodafone, ITV, KCOM and Sky (Sky Broadband).

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
26 Responses
  1. Ex Telecom Engineer says:

    The ISP’s have a good argument, as a significant proportion of Internet traffic has evolved into a different beast, since Net Neutrality was invoked. Over the last 10 years, new Broadcasters have appeared, and legacy Broadcasters are in the process of migrating from terrestrial/satellite to streaming. By new Broadcasters, I mean the likes of Netflix, YouTube, Prime, Disney, Now Tv, etc; By Legacy, I’m talking about BBC Iplayer, Sky Go, etc. It’s clear why the Broadcasters want to stream their content, as it removes costs associated with paying the likes of Arqiva, in the case of Terrestrial transmission, and SES S.A in the case of Satellites.
    Because of the huge Bandwidths utilized by internet Broadcasters, it stands to reason that their content provision requires ever more powerful Network Routers and Transmission Bandwidths. The Broadcasters say that they’re driving innovation, and services, but the internet also opens up access to larger audiences, for them, and their argument that they shouldn’t be penalised for Bandwidth utilisation ignores the costs loaded onto the ISP’s.
    I use Netflix and Prime, as well as watching content on Sky Go and Iplayer, so I watch most of the content highlighted in my post, I therefore benefit from the current situation. In my opinion, OFCOM should categorise Internet traffic, and define the different types of content provided; Broadcasters should pay a price for the Bandwidth they utilise on Networks, as it will still, likely, be cheaper than provision over Terrestrial/Satellite infrastructure.
    It will be interesting to see Ofcom’s conclusions. I stated previously that the ISP’s have a very good case, in my opinion, with “Broadcasters” appearing to have a Free Lunch.

    1. anonymous says:

      Broadcasters already pay to distribute their traffic over the internet, it’s called “transit”, or, building your own network and/or CDN to replace buying transit.

      There is no free ride for anyone on the internet, the telcos just want to get paid both by consumers and by content providers.

    2. Dave says:

      Broadcasters are not having a “Free lunch”. They have to pay for their connectivity to the Internet. They have to pay their providers for the capacity they are using.

      If both parties want to reduce their costs, they can set up a settlement free interconnect. This is how things have been done for years, and it’s incredibly cheap to implement and maintain.

      Bandwidth usage goes up naturally. This happened long before the advent of IPTV, and will continue as new services appear, and existing ones require more bandwidth.

      One thing that often gets missed is the content providers are not pushing their traffic onto some poor unsuspecting ISPs network. It is the ISPs customers that are requesting the traffic. They are the ones driving the demand.

      If the ISP cannot service their current network, and upgrade bandwidth where needed (as they have been doing for years) then their business model is broken. They need to start charging their customers appropriately to cover their costs. This is not the case however. BT posted a profit of £1.4 Billion for 2021.

      What is actually happening here is BT and potentially others have seen what is going on in other countries. They are trying to strong arm certain content providers for a cut of their profits. What will likely happen is the streaming services will up their prices in order to pay for these new bills, meaning ultimately money will go out of your pocket into the ISPs.

    3. Ex Telecom Engineer says:

      “Broadcasters already pay to distribute their traffic over the internet, it’s called “transit”, or, building your own network and/or CDN to replace buying transit.”

      I understand many international Broadcasters pay for capacity on subsea cables, Cloud storage, and local backhaul transmission into their Telecom provider’s Cloud Network’s, but once the traffic hits the Cloud, what are these “transit” costs? The ISP’S have to manage the costs on their network, and may not be benefitting from subsea capacity, or cloud access profits seen by some. No doubt BT and Vodafone, who own subsea capacity do benefit from some transmisson and cloud access profits, but many wont; And do these “transit” costs actually cover the full cost of capacity upgrades required on Core and access networks, to cope with Broadcaster traffic after Broadband Customer subscriptions are taken into account?
      One way, or another, the end customer will have to pay, either through their Broadband package, or through higher subscription charges to Broadcasters; Should people who don’t use Netflix, be subsidisng people like me who do?

    4. THB says:

      The problem with this is it becomes “unfair” to anyone deemed to be a broadcaster when there could legitimately be other content providers who use just as much, or more, bandwidth. For example, would TikTok be classed as a broadcaster? Or would they be categorised as a social media platform? They arguably use just as much download bandwidth as any other video streaming service, with the added bonus of using more upload bandwidth on the residential ISP network. It is far too much of an oversimplification for ISP’s to categorise content providers in this way, and anything more complex would likely lead to higher costs to the ISP and would not be good for the consumer.

      Additionally, ISP’s may negotiate different terms with individual content providers that may distort the market. For example, BT may negotiate favourable terms with Netflix and poor terms with YouTube, whilst Sky negotiate the reverse (favourable with YouTube and poor with Netflix). So should a consumer with BT, who have favourable Netflix terms, be subsidising a Sky consumer with unfavourable terms through higher Netflix subscription fees? It could all become far too messy for limited (if any) gain to the consumer.

    5. Ex Telecom Engineer says:

      “For example, would TikTok be classed as a broadcaster? Or would they be categorised as a social media platform? They arguably use just as much download bandwidth as any other video streaming service”

      I suppose it might depend on the definition of a Broadcaster, as defined by the regulator. They could base it on content, Bandwidth usage, or a number of other criteria. I don’t use TikTok, but from what I’ve seen it would probably be classed as a social media platform, in my opinion. Personally, I would class a Broadcaster as live streaming sports(BT Sport, Sky Sport, DAZN), TV & Film (BT TV, Now TV, Sky, Iplayer, Disney, etc). I would probably add YouTube to the Tv & Film category, as they stream content that’s potentially hours long; Maybe the regulators would look at the duration for streaming individual content, if and when they decide to classify Content provision into categories.
      If Facebook, and others, succeed in building a popular “Metaverse”, that may fall into a particular category if it has excessive bandwidth requirements; Who knows what Regulators Worldwide will decide? One thing’s for sure, regulators are eyeing the profits made by the Tech Giants, and will be looking at ways of onshoring as big a percentage of the profits these content providers make locally.

    6. anonymous says:

      @ex-telecom engineer:

      If you think it’s free to distribute video to millions of people in the UK and the receiving telcos bear all the cost, then please set up your own video streaming service and show Netflix, the BBC and YouTube they’re wasting billions on building network and CDN for nothing.

      It’s not.

      Each side pays already.

      On the ISPs side, if an ISPs cost base for serving the demand from their own customers is not sustainable they need to either revise their cost base or increase their prices. As someone upthread mentioned, BT seem to be doing quite well despite the complaints.

    7. THB says:

      “I suppose it might depend on the definition of a Broadcaster, as defined by the regulator.”

      And here lies the issue. The net isn’t neutral if there are specific hoops which dictate if you will be charged differently for the content you produce to make it to the end user.

      “One thing’s for sure, regulators are eyeing the profits made by the Tech Giants, and will be looking at ways of onshoring as big a percentage of the profits these content providers make locally.”

      I’m not sure changes to net neutrality will affect this. If change was to happen, it would mean those Tech Giants increase their prices so that their profits are unchanged/increase. It ultimately impacts the consumer, which would be the equivalent of leaving things as they are and ISP’s charging the consumer more to cover their increased costs of moving content around their network (or force ISP’s to innovate to reduce their cost base).

    8. Ex Telecom Engineer says:

      “On the ISPs side, if an ISPs cost base for serving the demand from their own customers is not sustainable they need to either revise their cost base or increase their prices. As someone upthread mentioned, BT seem to be doing quite well despite the complaints.”

      Well Ofcom wouldn’t be doing the review, if there wasn’t a case for reform. Whatever the result of the review, Ofcom can only advise, the Politicians will have the final say, as they’re the ones who will have to make any changes in Law. I suppose it will come down to increasing prices for all Broadband users, or allowing the ISP’s to squeeze the highly profitable Tech Giants, with a subsequent increase in online subscription charges for streaming services, I know which ones I’d target. It isn’t like the Tech Giant can’t afford to have some profits creamed off the top.

    9. anonymous says:

      @ex telecom engineer

      “It isn’t like the Tech Giant can’t afford to have some profits creamed off the top.”

      Two responses to that:

      1. this wouldn’t just affect “tech giants”, any platform or service on the Internet would then have to pay a telco to deliver content demanded by that telco’s customers. This would lead to a fragmented and less open Internet where certain services just wouldn’t bother paying so certain sites would become inaccessible to you. For example, after GDPR, a whole bunch of US newspaper websites decided the cost of compliance wasn’t worth it, so those sites are now inaccessible to Europeans. You might just find that your own favourite website would be one of those cut off, and there would be nothing you could do about it, until you could extract yourself from your 2 year ISP contract and move ISP.

      2. “Tech companies are rich” is the sort of genius thinking that led to the UK Digital Services Tax, which became a separate line item on the bill for all UK advertisers, and didn’t hurt tech companies at all… https://www.theguardian.com/media/2020/sep/01/googles-advertisers-will-take-the-hit-from-uk-digital-service-tax

    10. Ex Telecom Engineer says:

      ““Tech companies are rich” is the sort of genius thinking that led to the UK Digital Services Tax, which became a separate line item on the bill for all UK advertisers, and didn’t hurt tech companies at all”

      It would seem that they have a monopoly then,going off the Guardian article, so they should be heavily regulated to the point local competition can step in and replace them. The Tech Giants have been allowed to grow unchecked, for too long, actions like forcing price rises onto UK customers in response to Government taxation, only highlights why big tech should be broken up, allowing more competition.
      I would suggest Google hammered a nail in their own coffin by passing a taxation cost onto UK customers in isolation to the worldwide customers, there might even be a case to sue them under competion law, as their actions are discriminatory toward UK customers.
      Look at Facebook and Giphy as an example of what happens when a Tech Giant thumbs its nose at a regulator. Regulators also tend to talk to each other, which probably means the US Tech Giants are facing a rocky ride going forward.

    11. MikeP says:

      “Well Ofcom wouldn’t be doing the review, if there wasn’t a case for reform.”

      2 points: Ofcom may be doing the review as part of a regular review of policies (I must confess I don’t know the context of this review)

      If they’re doing it because a case for reform is being made, it may well be that a vested interest is making the case for a reform that would be detrimental to consumers – as appears to be the case here. Let’s not forget that the raison d’etre of regulators is to protect the interests of consumers against the negative effects of untramelled commercial interests.

    12. anonymous says:

      @ex telecom engineer

      If there is a competition issue (and I’m not arguing either way on that), then I wouldn’t try and solve it through net neutrality rules… trying to force tech companies to pay telcos to deliver traffic demanded by their users is just going to result in a “UK Streaming Surcharge” on your Netflix bill.

    13. Matthew B says:

      Absolutely keen to keep net neutrality in place as it stands now. The one thing I’d very much like is for the streaming providers out there to give us the ability to download and watch stuff on our TV (similar to a sky box but in small form factor), and have our stuff just download whatever we want on an overnight schedule. We wouldn’t need a fast connection, we wouldn’t be bandwidth hogging at peak time for ISP’s either. But the likes of Netflix and Amazon have stripped away more and more our ability to do that the last few years. Even airplay mirroring from an iOS device nowhas been artificially removed by those companies. It shouldn’t be that hard to do, seeing as tablets etc already do this, and it’s ridiculous that the only way I can work out to do it is via damned illegal methods. Which is plain nuts.

  2. Regorimabitbackward says:

    In principle your right but I would also argue this, I currently pay my electric company a standing charge, which I understand helps to provide and maintain the service. I then pay for the amount of electricity I use the more I use the more I pay. My broadband however is unlimited at a fixed charge now I would argue surely It would be a lot fairer if the people who use it the most pay the most.

    1. Matt says:

      How about no being disabled I’m stuck in and I relie on the Internet and gameing eg services so making people that are allready paying alot pay more is disgusting I pay 120 pound a month for my service why should I pay more! Why would we go back to die up charging what makes me laff is all the people that want the change are not bothered as thay propley hardly use there Internet so jog on if you think I’m going to pay more than I am all ready greedy I’m all for a priority for gameing for an xtra but better not f with my usage thow

    2. Ex Telecom Engineer says:

      “My broadband however is unlimited at a fixed charge now I would argue surely It would be a lot fairer if the people who use it the most pay the most.”

      I’m not sure you can directly compare Electricity provision with Internet Traffic, as Electricity is basically one product; You can pay your provider extra for Green Electricity, but this will only affect the mix of Electricity the provider purchases on the wholesale markets. Your provider will have costs associated with infrastructure, to companies like National Grid, in much the same way as Openreach charge ISP’s using their Infrastructure.
      Telecom companies infrastructure is based in the country they provide services, so they have local costs associated with powering their networks, installing Infrastructure, etc, and getting a return on their investment; A Broadcaster operating from a different country, offering a subscription service, potentially earns high revenues with little investment in local infrastructure, and therefore benefits from a competitive Net Neutral environment reducing their operating costs.
      Clearly an international Broadcaster utilising Telecom Infrastructure, and making huge profits from subscription services with little investment in local infrastructure, is damaging for the economies they operate in, but aren’t based in.

      You also said, “I would argue surely It would be a lot fairer if the people who use it the most pay the most”, the easiest way to do that is to transfer a proportion of the Network costs, from the ISP’s to the Broadcasters; How Ofcom might achieve that, is anyone’s guess.

  3. Matt says:

    Traffic shaping only benefits the isp so why screw over the coustmers let me no of any benefits the coustmers will have

    Cons pay more
    Traffic will be slowed down real time apps will suffer and if that happens I’ll join whoever treats me with respect and doesn’t mess me with gameing and usage I understand that the isps want to smooth out the usage but punishing the coustmers is disgusting thay allready charge far to much

  4. Matt says:

    Do u expect a disabled person to pay 100s for bb acsses its disgusting wanting to make us pay more than we allready do

    1. Anonymous says:

      wait what ? You should get discounted internet for being disabled ? Why ?

    2. DisabledDefence says:

      @Anon

      Because they’re disabled, they clearly have reduced funds and a far greater healthcare costs (NHS doesn’t cover everything they require).
      Nearly every service provided is reduced for disabled people, Are you trying to imply they should be paying the same as able bodied people?

  5. Kim says:

    just replace net neutrality laws with one rule “isps may not charge content providers” enough of this two sided market i’m with netflix here

  6. Jack says:

    So basically ISP’s that don’t invest in capacity want money to solve their problems?

    An example is if an ISP sells an unlimited 80/20 it should have capacity for the customer to basically use it at full rate 24/7. If you can’t do that without claiming you need extra money to cover streaming etc from other providers then don’t offer unlimited access.

  7. Laurence 'GreenReaper' Parry says:

    I run a furry art community that delivers its members’ content around the world. We pay a large portion of our budget already to host VPS and dedicated servers to form a custom CDN in different locations – including London, but also Sao Paulo, Tokyo, Singapore, Sydney, Virginia, etc.

    Transfer costs, which in the more expensive locations tend to be on a TB/month basis rather than unlimited at a particular bandwidth, form a significant proportion of the expense of such servers and are usually the limiting factor. I. Europe we might have unlimited transfer – in Tokyo or Australia, 1-3TB/month per VPS, or a bit more for a dedicated server.

    One of the main reasons for costs being high in particular locations is that incumbent local ISPs are able to extract exorbitant fees from server hosts to connect with them. These fees are passed on in the form of transfer limits or overages. It means that, since we are able to deliver less content there than we would otherwise, users of those ISPs get a worse service. Instead, what usually happens is that we direct people to get files from our servers in Europe; which while far away, costs us less.

    In the USA, we (or rather, our visitors) see the impacts of congestion fairly regularly as packet loss when local interchanges are overloaded, the ISPs there using the same argument that “they’re pushing this data to us, they should be paying for transit” – conveniently forgetting that access to such data is what consumers – their actual customers – pay for; the service they are providing. Such ISPs deliberately allow such customer service to degrade, because they figure they won’t be blamed for it; and if they are, there aren’t good alternatives to switch to (and people who notice are relatively heavy users already).

    Regulators should not allow the ISPs to insert themselves as rent-takers or gatekeepers on both sides of the equation, not to impose artificial distinctions for product segmentation purposes as opposed to providing a good service for all sorts of data to all.

  8. Optimist says:

    This increase in data usage is consumer-led so either the ISPs should invest more in infrastructure to cope or introduce tariffs based on data usage, which mobile phone companies have always done.

    1. Regorimabitbackward says:

      My argument exactly

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