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back to article Steelie Neelie: Crack down on wicked ISPs so we can Skype

Brussels' vice president Neelie Kroes hopes to stop European ISPs from supposedly being anti-competitive by blocking or throttling rival services. The commissioner, whose brief includes the digital agenda in the EU, lobbied the European Parliament today with her "net neutrality" proposals. Kroes claimed that "many Europeans" …

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Anonymous Coward

"Innovation"

Calling services "innovations" when both messaging and video calling have been around for nearly two decades shows a dreadful ignorance from someone who has a responsibility for managing ISPs !

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Re: "Innovation"

maybe... but trying to stop ISPs from throttling them and forcing them to provide realistic speed estimates are two very positive points.

whether either of these get anywhere is another matter.

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Re: "Innovation"

Yes. Video calling has been around, as a concept, for quite some time: as this Wikipedia article details.

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Meh

This guy is a knight in shining armour

But his enemies have big guns.

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Re: This guy is a knight in shining armour

That would be her enemies have big guns.

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/kroes/index_en.htm

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Devil

re: mod+3 mod-6 ...

"Calling services "innovations" when both messaging and video calling have been around for nearly two decades shows a dreadful ignorance from someone who has a responsibility for managing ISPs !

How dare you criticise MICROS~1 ..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Innovation"

Are the citizens of the EU such helpless and ignorant clowns that they can't even ensure they get from their telco what they paid for? And why do I need a EUR150K call center woman to help me with that?

No wonder the EU is in shambles, what a sad nanny state!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Innovation"

Of course, and we need the big government to decide what "realistic" estimates are.

One more bureaucratic agency or "service", higher prices and (after intensive lobbying of the said protector of the Euro sheeple) still crappy service.

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Re: helpless and ignorant clowns

Whereas the US is such a shining example to the rest of the world, yes?

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Re: "Innovation"

It is worth bearing in mind that many ISP contracts have minimum terms with very expensive early terminations, so shopping around for the best service is not quite so easy. Point is switching to better service should be easy and without heavy financial penalties.

So how is it a bad thing or nanny state if the businesses actually need to be open and honest about the service they are selling and it having to be easy to switch should the service not live up to the expectation?

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FAIL

Why did you feel it important to mention that the commissioner is unelected, o unelected journalist? I didn't expect Farage-style frothing at El Reg.

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The commission is the executive and primary legislative branch of the EU's government, it seems fair to mention that they're appointed given how much power they wield and how little control and oversight we, the peoples of Europe, have over their activities. It's hardly frothing.

Comparing that to a journalist's "unelected" position isn't even apples and walnuts, never mind oranges.

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Why indeed

You have a choice, to read El Reg or not, or just dip into and scan those articles which might interest you.

When an EU Commissioner pushes through laws and regulations, you can't 'dip in' and only obey those which appeal to you.

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Anonymous Coward

Commissioners are put forward by national governments. Their role is appointed by the President who is elected by the parliament whose members are elected by the nations' electorate (if they can be bothered turning out)

The EU parliament then approves the team as a whole or not.

Indirectly elected or selected maybe. And the usual warnings over horsetrading/national interests/buggins term etc.

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Anonymous Coward

"I didn't expect Farage-style frothing at El Reg"

While putting it on a par with Farage's particular brand of frothing, Euroscepticism is par for course in vulture central's editorial tone, along with climate change scepticism, calling for the execution of all "freetards", calling for the execution of all those who think using a term like "freetard" might just be a little offensive, winding up Stephen Fry, regularly mocking Apple as a Foxconn reseller, reducing Google to an ad man on a power trip etc. etc.

Not to knock the quality of the journalism, of course, but the tabloid tone should surprise absolutely no one here.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why indeed

"When an EU Commissioner pushes through laws and regulations, you can't 'dip in' and only obey those which appeal to you."

EU Commissioners don't have the power to "push through laws and regulations". They hold the sole power to propose European legislation, but it is up to the parliament to vote on it and the individual nations (as the European Council) to accept it.

Also, for the record, while it is technically an appointment, they're not entirely unelected - each Commission must be approved by the Parliament and each member is proposed by a corresponding nation in the Council, whose representative there is there through right of election.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Re: Why indeed

Yet commissioners are the only part of the EU that can propose legislation. If the vote looks like it's going against them, they can withdraw the legislation without penalty before having a second bite of the apple.

Hmm. Voting more than once to obtain the desired result. That doesn't sound like the EU, does it, Seamus?

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"Not to knock the quality of the journalism, of course, but the tabloid tone should surprise absolutely no one here."

"Biting the hand that feeds IT"; That's a clue to the tone right there, innit?

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Re: Why indeed

"withdraw the legislation without penalty before having a second bite of the apple."

I'm struggling to see why you'd object to an unpopular piece of legislation being withdrawn, re-worked and then re-submitted. What point is there in continuing to spend time and money on something that won't get passed?

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Devil

Re: Why indeed

> What point is there in continuing to spend time and money on something that won't get passed?

Yes, indeed.

What point is there in spending (in particular) your money on something that won't get passed.

Better retire it, let if fester in the cellar for 4 month, add a paragraph, then table it again.

That way your money will be spent more wholesomely, and it might even pass this time.

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The European Commission does not legislate.

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Re: Why indeed

Oh no. Legislation has to be approved by a elected representatives and if it fails to get approval it can be resubmitted in a modified form. That's outrageous. No, not outrageous, the other word. Democratic.

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Re: Why indeed

What is outrageous is repeatedly submitting something almost if not entirely identical until it passes by accident or through boredom.

Which has happened - and not just in the EU. Teresa's going for the 3rd or 4th attempt on the snoopers charter, essentially unchanged from the first time it got shot down.

At what point does it become taking the piss?

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Unhappy

Tabloid tone?

You haven't read the tabloids recently, have you?

El Reg is not 99% shit.

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WTF?

Re: Tabloid tone?

Hey- I can't edit any more... where's my badge gone???

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I do wonder if the convoluted structure of the EU's legislative, executive and judiciary arms was set up precisely to obfuscate its true workings.

The ECHR, that wonderful organ preventing us from deporting criminals and terrorists, is nominally separate from the EU proper, via the Council of Europe. The European Commission - the leadership - doesn't "legislate", inamuch as it cannot pass laws. It just writes those laws and submits them to the European Parliament. They in turn cannot "legislate" as we understand that term in our democracy - the EP can only rubberstamp what is put before them by the unelected and unaccountable commissioners.

Which all makes it remarkably easy for EU apparatchiki to pass the buck when questioned as to exactly what they're up to - or, indeed, for commentards to post snide one-liners and get a massive bite in return.

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Facepalm

Re: Why indeed

"When an EU Commissioner pushes through laws and regulations, you can't 'dip in' and only obey those which appeal to you."

...unless you are French...

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Anonymous Coward

"I do wonder if the convoluted structure of the EU's legislative, executive and judiciary arms was set up precisely to obfuscate its true workings."

This is partially true, but not in the way one would immediately suspect of hiding its ABUSES OF UNACCOUNTABLE POWER from the people of Europe. The EU's legislative and executive functions are as convoluted as they are mainly to prevent the supra-national EU from exerting its authority over the individual nation states and preventing any individual or small bloc of nation states from dominating the rest of the EU.

The EP generally has a markedly different make-up from the national parliaments (e.g. UKIP about the win the UK EP elections despite being unlikely to gain a single seat in UK general elections), so the national governments don't want to give an institution dominated by protest votes any real power [in turn guaranteeing perpetual protest votes...], so the EP cannot propose legislation.

The European Commission is dominated by the executives of the individual nation states, with each commissioner proposed by their national government, and only they can propose legislation - guaranteeing that any European legislation has the OK from the national executives. Each nation wouldn't want the other nations to be able to propose things willy-nilly, so they're in turn held in check by the EP.

And, to top it all off, the Commission and Parliament both are held in check by the European Council, who hold the only real power in the EU.

While it may sound absurd, the whole system has been effectively designed to ensure the EU can't really do anything that doesn't have widespread support or explicit treaty authorisation. That might sound pretty stupid, but it allows the EU to do the things it's supposed to do (free trade, free movement, standardisation etc.) while precluding the hazard of a headstrong European apparatus suddenly becoming all activist and trying to further, for example, a federalist agenda. Those matters are reserved for the nation states, as is only right.

Conflating the EU with the ECHR is just stupid. They're completely separate bodies. The Council of Europe is almost twice the size of the EU and the convention predates all EU precursor bodies bar Benelux and the ECSC. It's on a completely different treaty framework.

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Happy

Re: Tabloid tone?

ooo- it's back again. Ta.

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No but when you buy a carton of milk you buy it outright at a cost that reflects it's production costs plus profit etc. Ask your ISP for a 50mb leased line and see if its the same price as a contended 50mb cable connection, I doubt it. I think she misunderstands some of the situation.

Net neutrality is important and some network management is prudent i.e. at times when there is congestion (and only then) prioratising time sensitive packets make sense. As does upgrading the capacity when that happens. Blocking or degrading voip or streaming video because it's eating your bottom line isn't ok. Telco and cablecos seriously need to wake up and realise that rather than trying to kill hulu and skype et al they should compete. Some people still want a linear service for tv and thats fine, but folks have also tasted on demand streaming from a decent catalog. If they got their heads of out their behinds and built a new product, say 40-60 bucks a month, on demand, a decent ad free (hulu I'm looking at you) catalog of current HD tv and film then I would happily pay it and they would still get their money. Try and degrade netflix and I switch isp's. The regulator still needs to act for those unable to switch though.

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On the other hand, there are tons of subsidies in the milk carton (Making for a low price, causing subsidized milk producers to pour their milk overproduction on the capitals' streets, demanding "fair prices". Europe is a basket case)

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True, but not unlike the American gm corn farming industry.

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Anonymous Coward

THREE are the only provider that do not block SKYPE in my area ...

Can't understand how Vodafone and O2 get away with deliberately degrading their prepay packages unless you buy their Skype add-on package. Useless regulators as always! I thought the problem was coverage. After troubleshooting on forums I realized the real culprit. But by then it was too late as I was stuck with a useless dongle... Anyone else get taken in by this practice?

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Re: THREE are the only provider that do not block SKYPE in my area ...

Just spoke to an "o2 guru": he says I CAN use Skype with my o2 dongle on a laptop.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: THREE are the only provider that do not block SKYPE in my area ...

"Just spoke to an "o2 guru": he says I CAN use Skype with my o2 dongle on a laptop."

Be careful with this. There is a vast difference between the promises of the in-store staff, customer support and actually test-driving a dongle in practice in your region.... Three possible explanations:

1. They're only blocking it in my region: ROI.

2. With competition from Three, they've relaxed the restrictions since I last checked.

3. Wrong info given by in-store staff. I only test-drove a Vodafone modem, it blocks Skype for sure.

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Re: THREE are the only provider that do not block SKYPE in my area ...

You should really try an O2 dongle before publicly condemning it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: THREE are the only provider that do not block SKYPE in my area ...

Are you an O2 employee David1? O2 in-store staff took me aside and blatantly said 'we know Three offer Skype, but basically we match our deals directly with Vodafone. So if they're blocking we're blocking'. How much more market research do I have to do? I already got stuck with one useless dongle! If you can't rely on O2 support or the in-store staff both, who has more time for research? I don't work for a consumer magazine.

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Re: THREE are the only provider that do not block SKYPE in my area ...

No, just a user of their dongle, mobile phone service and wired broadband. As a matter of fact I am very cross with them for selling out their wired broadband to Murdoch. However I have successfully used Skype with the dongle, and have found their support services are pretty good.

Sounds as if you were misled by one of their in-store people.

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Devil

ISP's should only provide access and bandwidth...nothing else!

As the name implies, an Internet Service Provider should provide access to the Internet, email service and bandwidth. No other services should be offered so there are no competitive issues. Phone, TV, IPTV should all be independent and never a subsidary of the ISP.

The ISP's should not be allowed (or demanded/expected) to do anything else. On the other hand, Government should be prevented from making outrageous demands on ISP's (filtering etc) because that is as bad as the ISP doing traffic shaping.

The fact is that SOME QoS is required as you just cannot have people hosting websites on residential service, or other crazy bandwidth hogging stuff.

I would like to see some greater upload speeds provided as well as some modicum of usable service responsibility by the provider.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ISP's should only provide access and bandwidth...nothing else!

"ISP's should only provide access and bandwidth...nothing else! "

How would that work and what possible benefit could it bring? An ISP that bundles a variety of services together only needs to take a profit once. If you buy your Internet bits from five different companies, they all want a profit. What you're talking about is reducing choice, not increasing it. I can choose today to buy my Internet from a cheap as chips supplier who offer very little, or an inclusive one that offers all the bells and whistles. The important thing is that it's my choice.

I think you're mistaking QoS with contention. You can have a 50Mbps connection the the Internet that's all yours, but you'll pay hundreds and hundreds of pounds a month for it, maybe more if you live somewhere remote.

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Devil

Re: ISP's should only provide access and bandwidth...nothing else!

Obviously you don't get my point which is relative to the article where their COMPETING SERVICES create traffic shaping issues. I want an ISP to provide me with the internet and I will buy my other "services" where I want them from NOT BUNDLED IN SOME RETARDED INCOMPREHENSIBLE FUCKING PACKAGE WHERE I PAY OUT THE ASS FOR CRAP I DO NOT WANT OR NEED!!!!!!

I'll be happy to pay Pandora, Hulu, Netflix, whatever VOIP Phone provider etc a reasonable fee rather than give it to Verizon, Time Warner, Comcast, et al.

This ALSO lets the "little guys" have a real business model, completely independent of providing me with INTERNET SERVICE! If I can finally get competition for INTERNET SERVICE then the price goes down.

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Meh

Re: ISP's should only provide access and bandwidth...nothing else!(@ Dan Paul)

Your definition of Internet (webpages+mail) falls a little short.

Everybody -everybody except you, it seems- sees the Internet as a comms channel that can give them access to any kind of information in any digital format. Saying that Internet is just webpages and email nowadays is delusional.

We pay the ISPs for access to the whole Internet, not to some subset arbitrarily chosen by an interested party.

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Re: ISP's should only provide access and bandwidth...nothing else!(@ Dan Paul)

"We pay the ISPs for access to the whole Internet, not to some subset arbitrarily chosen by an interested party."

I've got a 50Mbps connection. Why can't I get 50Mbps to livehotyaks.mn? My ISP's fault, or the Mongolian ISP's fault? As for Kroes' comment-

"After all, when you buy a carton of milk, you don't expect it to be half-empty:"

Yet when you buy a carton of cornflakes or soap powder, it usually is half-empty. Maybe ISP's should just add a label saying 'packets may settle during transit'. Or peering.

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Meh

Re: ISP's should only provide access and bandwidth...nothing else!(@ Dan Paul)

"I've got a 50Mbps connection. Why can't I get 50Mbps to livehotyaks.mn? My ISP's fault, or the Mongolian ISP's fault?"

Which has nothing to do with the problem at hand. The domain owner hired some capacity from the Mongolian ISP, who agreed to host the server and provide a given amount of bandwidth. If say bandwidth is too small because the domain owner is a cheapskate or because the Mongolian ISP connects to other networks using carrier pigeons, it's up to them to negotiate a solution, update the infrastructure or change ISPs.

What we are discussing here is your local ISP acting as a robber baron from the Middle Ages, and imposing a tax on whatever data goes into their network. This is bad for the users, the content creators and companies that try to provide services through Internet.

Want to watch youtube or similar video services in HD? Pay $XX. Skype? Pay $YY. Streaming music? Ditto. And so on, and so on...

We, as users, hire bandwidth capacity from the ISPs, and the owner of the domain hires capacity to the Mongolian ISP. Any charges/locks/limitations by your local ISP on the kind of data you download are just double dipping and, basically, a scam.

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Devil

Re: ISP's should only provide access and bandwidth...nothing else!(@ Dan Paul)

Reading is not your speciality is it? Been in a box for ten years then, no where did I say anything about limited access in fact I said "an Internet Service Provider should provide access to the Internet, email service and bandwidth"

"Internet Access" is in fact unfetterered, unregulated, uninterfered with, "access" to the internet. ANYTHING ON IT IS INCLUDED YOU DOLT! For the retarded pedants out there, that includes the whole fricking Internet

Is that really so hard to understand? Did I say web pages, no.. did I say only email, no...

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Alert

They are not ISP's they are NOISP's

Can't we settle this like Champagne and sparkling wine?

If you supply a connection to the whole Internet you are an ISP.

If you supply a connection to some online services but not others you are a twat, err I mean Nonspecific Online Internet Services Provider. AKA a NOISP...

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Anonymous Coward

20 European CEOs ask Kroes to defend real open internet

At the event this morning, Neelie Kroes was given an open letter signed by 20 European CEOs asking to defend the open internet. You can find the letter here http://www.reddit.com/r/POLITIC/comments/1fn1r7/net_neutrality_open_letter_by_european_ceos_to/

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Black Helicopters

Re: 20 European Freeriders ask Kroes to defend real open internet

"Network access providers must be prohibited from blocking, degrading, hindering (including through application and/or service specific price surcharges) and throttling targeted at applications, services, content or protocols."

That's a shame. ISPs better turn off their DDOS protection systems as they throttle applications, services, content and protocols. ISPs better not even hint at offering QoS to allow better quality voice, video or real-time application usage. That would allow better speech or video quality, or even improved twitch gaming, but would sadly violate 'net neutrality'. Too bad the 'net will have to stay best efforts

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Coat

Shouldn't Lewis Page be writing this?

So he can demand we shun European law and instead get our law cheap from the US?

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And where whas she...

When Microsoft was pulling away Messenger. A, in my opinion, real innovating service (to some extend of course) in that it could be easily used on both desktop and telephone and was actually a very widely used service. Both for VOIP (like) services as well regular instant messages.

Yet all that had to go in favour of Skype where it seems that the only way to make "full" use of it is if you get yourself a premium subscription or buy into lots of Skype credits. Of course I did the total opposite; the moment Messenger stopped working I removed it and Skype and that was the end of it.

Now I'm looking for a feasible, non-intrusive, replacement. The webclient (Outlook.com) is somewhat usable, but not just quite a good setup.

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