Ofcom has, for example, decided that treating all packets of internet traffic as equals without discriminating against particular protocols and services – trendily known as net neutrality – is a non-issue in the UK.
While some mobile operators are blocking access to some services, the free market will sort that out – though that market might need a little more greasing to make switching easier. Elsewhere the regulator accepts that the free market – in the form of spectrum auctions – can’t always deliver greatest utilisation, so alternatives need to be considered.
Hmm. The old “open market” argument against enforcing net nuetrality. A stance which doesn’t help consumers one iota when they’re limited to a single provider as is the case in places like Hull (where there’s only one operator. Yay open market!) or many other areas that aren’t served well by ADSL so have to go with the only viable cable operator.
This is the position I’m in. If I signed up for an ADSL connection, regardless of provider, I’d bu stuck with a sub 1MB connection because I’m stuck in between two (ageing) exchanges. So I’m on cable with a 120MB connection with the UK’s only viable cable operator, Virgin Media.
Is there any other way the open market could be failing?
Ofcom is tasked with keeping an eye on ISP traffic management, but has said that as long as customers are informed then ISPs (both fixed and mobile) can do what they like. Today that means some mobile operators are blocking Skype and some aren’t, so Ofcom reckons customers who want Skype can just switch networks and there’s no cause for regulatory action – though it intends to keep a close eye on the subject.
Wow. This is exactly, exactly why enforcing net neutrality is important. Want to use Skype, well you better sign up with Operator A. Oh, you want to watch BBC iPlayer? You should have said so, that’s Operator B. Sorry.
So what does Ofcom do then?