Ofcom has set out steps it expects Internet Service Providers in the UK to take, to make issues such as network traffic management as transparent as possible. ISPs use traffic management to deal with congestion, slowing down or speeding up the flow of traffic based on priority.
The regulator admits that in practice it is beneficial for the most part, being used, for example, to protect critical traffic such as emergency calls. However, Ofcom is concerned that ISPs could use the same management systems to target rivals' services.
It said that ISPs do not go far enough in providing information to consumers about how they manage traffic. If ISPs do not cooperate with Ofcom, it may use its powers to enforce a minimum level of consumer information under European framework.
It expects the ISPs should provide the following information to their customers:
- Average speed information that indicates the level of service consumers can expect to receive;
- Information about the impact of any traffic management that is used on specific types of services, such as reduced download speeds during peak times for peer-to-peer software; and
- Information on any specific services that are blocked, resulting in consumers being unable to run the services and applications of their choice.
In particular, a consumer paying for 'internet access' should expect this to include the full range of services available over the open internet. ISPs should not use the term 'internet access' to refer to a service that blocks lawfully available internet services.
Written by: James Delahunty @ 25 Nov 2011 6:31