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posted by janrinok on Wednesday March 19 2014, @03:19AM   Printer-friendly

bucc5062 writes:

"In a surprising twist, the EU is struggling with issues surrounding Net Neutrality. An ARS technica article reports on how the EU and its citizens seems to be walking down the same path US ISP customers have these days; ISPs and major carriers throttling content as well as attempting to extort more money from content providers. The Dutch seemed to understand the importance of having a level playing field. Sad that what was viewed as the example of how ISPs should compete and do business, now the EU body politic has caught the US version of the golden rule, he who has the gold, makes the rules."

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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by juggs on Wednesday March 19 2014, @07:58AM

    by juggs (63) on Wednesday March 19 2014, @07:58AM (#18451) Journal

    Another way is to make line ownership a monopoly, but ISPs cannot own lines, just provide the equipment at both ends and lease the line at a fixed rate from the monopoly.
    Then regulate the monopoly completely and make sure that it does not favor any ISP and charges everyone the same price.
    The competition is then at the ISP end, where each company is free to choose its own package and users are allowed to move to any other ISP.
    Because users are free to choose their own ISP, then the cost of the package will go down, and because the monopolist is regulated, it should make only a fixed amount of profit (and reduce its costs, in thoery)...

    This is what was attempted (mostly successfully) in the UK. with the break up of BT (British Telecom), at the time a monolithic entity that owned the line plant, provided wholesale reseller access to their equipment and products and also sold direct to retail consumers.

    It was mostly the adoption of DSL (digital subscriber line) and WLR (wholesale line rental) then more latterly LLU (local loop unbundling) that caused the changes. The telco / ISP part of BT was cleaved apart.

    Initially into two factions:
    BT Wholesale - provided access to products to ISPs wanting to provide DSL or WLR products to their end users, with associated backhaul fees etc.
    BT Retail - sold such products directly to end users under BT branding.

    At that point BT Wholesale had to provide the same financial terms to every ISP, BT Retail included.

    Then came the onslaught of LLU, whereby SPs wanted to put their own DSLAMs (digital subscriber line access multiplexers (broadband only)) and MSANs (multi-service access nodes (voice plus broadband)) into BT Wholesale's local telephone exchanges and provide their own backhaul from that point - essentially pushing the handover point for traffic further out into the network.

    That caused the need for the second phase of cleaving, so we ended up with:
    Openreach (still a BT Group company): responsible for the last mile copper path and the local exchange infrastructure, including arranging "co-mingling" areas for the hand off from their last mile to SPs equipment.
    BT Wholesale: Still selling DSL and WLR based on BT owned kit to resellers to onwards sell to end users.
    BT Retail: Consuming BT Wholesale services to sell to end users.

    All of course overseen by a regulatory body (OFCOM). Openreach had to offer access to their network assets to all players on the same terms as offered to BT Wholesale and so on up the chain.

    To slightly confuse matters the product transition from WLR2 to WLR3 within the BT Group saw its (the product's) ownership being moved from BT Wholesale to Openreach - I'm not sure how that was achieved, I'm more a data than voice person, although it smells to me like someone skirted some regulation loophole (opinion).

    This did drop end user prices significantly (particularly the LLU roll outs) in the early 2000s, but it also threw up quite horrible inefficiencies for smaller ISPs - those left consuming BT Wholesale products and ultimately we have mostly seen them disappear from the market apart from niche / high-cost providers. The john/jane retail market has consolidated through takeovers to 3 maybe 4 big hitters, who now seem to be steadily increasing prices in lock step.

    This last mile puzzle is not as easy to solve as it first seems. We now have Openreach offering all comers fibre access to their roadside cabinets (you get to sling your own mini-DSLAM into the roadside cabinet and either rent fibre capacity from there or if you are feeling brave blow your own fibre to it, absorbing wayleave and civil engineering costs etc. Unsurprisingly no-one seems to have gone for this option to my knowledge).

    I probably had a point in mind when I started typing, tis gone now, so I'll just post it as real world experience or a case study.

    1. When breaking apart a monopoly, there's not much to be gained by erecting Chinese Walls and splitting a monolith into several subsidiaries of a parent company. Well other than you can do jedi tricks on regulators of course.
    2. Just how far out into the last mile do we really want to go with this competition? Is there any logical sense to doing the grunt work required to provided a decent copper pair or optical fibre to each dwelling more than once?

    Apologies for the long blithering as always :D

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