Monday, 11 July 2016

What do apps require? Shall we ask Marketing or Legal?

The new net neutrality guidelines currently being considered by BEREC (the European regulators group) propose that ISPs be required to publish:
"an explanation of speeds, examples of popular applications that can be used with a sufficient quality, and an explanation of how such applications are influenced by the limitations of the provided [service]"
In other words, they're going to need to make a formal disclosure of which applications are possible with which bandwidths.

Similar documents are already provided by a number of ISPs in the US, and they make interesting reading, not least because they often have a rather different emphasis than the language used in marketing materials. Here for instance is the legal disclosure of  United Communications (a Tennessee telco). They say - accurately - that their 25 Mbps ADSL service can support email, browsing, social media, HD video streaming, video calling and multiplayer online gaming.

For all their fibre products (up to 1 Gbps) they simply say "All the applications listed above". That is, no matter how fast the fibre is, it doesn't actually enable any applications not possible over ADSL.

Contrast this to the same company's marketing,which says:
"United’s fiber internet lets you stream movies and TV shows with no stutters or slowdowns... it gives you the power to handle the next generation of awesomeness: 'massively multiplayer online games'"
The Marketing Department's language isn't false. Fibre does let you do those things. But the Legal Department's filing shows it is incomplete. You don't need fibre to do those things.

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