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Network Neutrality Threatened In Norway 110

Posted by kdawson
from the just-pass-my-packets dept.
eirikso writes, "In June 2006 NextGenTel, one of the biggest broadband providers in Norway, decided to deliberately limit the bandwidth from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. The CEO of NextGenTel, Morten Ågnes, told the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten that they will give priority to the content providers who pay for better bandwidth. The Consumer Council of Norway takes this as a serious threat to network neutrality in Norway and wants to call a meeting with the biggest broadband providers in Norway to find a solution."
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Network Neutrality Threatened In Norway

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  • Missed the update? (Score:5, Informative)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @06:22AM (#16302749)
    It's not news anymore, if you read the fine article (blog, whatever). There has been an update to the text that says that the broadband provider caved in to pressure to stop the throttling.
    • Update to what, did something happen? I clicked the link but I can't remember anything.
      • by flumps (240328)
        Hah see, they're already doing it. You didn't even see them throttle your bandwidth!
    • by jginspace (678908)
      Maybe it was news when it was submitted. You don't expect a /. editor to check for updates and adjust accordingly now do you???
      • I come to Slashdot for the excellent editorialship and breaking news.
        • by kjart (941720) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @06:33AM (#16302801)

          I come to Slashdot for the excellent editorialship and breaking news.

          Indeed, looking further into the article we find:

          In June 2006 NextGenTel, one of the biggest broadband providers in Norway decided to deliberately limit the bandwidth from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK).

          And by further into the article, I mean the first sentence of the "Original article". So, to recap, this story misses the update (which indicates that this is now a non-issue), and is reporting on something that started several months ago. Bravo :)

          • by suv4x4 (956391)
            And by further into the article, I mean the first sentence of the "Original article". So, to recap, this story misses the update (which indicates that this is now a non-issue), and is reporting on something that started several months ago. Bravo :)

            I wonder how many Slashdotters thought this when they see the editors screw up: "damn it, if you can run a blog with that much nonsense and be successfull, I can run one too!" and parted on their way to glory.
            • I wonder how many Slashdotters thought this when they see the editors screw up: "damn it, if you can run a blog with that much nonsense and be successfull, I can run one too!" and parted on their way to glory.

              If by "glory" you mean "Digg [digg.com]," then at least a few.

          • by tyldis (712367) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @07:20AM (#16302987)
            I feel the need to clarify this a bit, before the submitter is totally fried for being out of date.

            The throttling begun in June, but it was not made public until September 30th when the National Broadcasting Corporation published a statement. After that the ISP in question received lots of angry phonecalls and emails (also from yours truly which happens to be a customer). On October 3rd the ISP declared that it has ended the practise because everyone hated them.

            The ISP claim that the free content is growing more rapidly than their infrastructure can handle, and that they prioritize their investments to suit content providers who pay up.
            The weird thing is that the same ISP is happily upgrading all their customers with broader DSL access and very actively marketing 20mbit ADSL2+.
            • by elrous0 (869638) *
              Holy cow, 20 mbit DSL! They wouldn't have to do much marketing if *I* were in Norway. The most I can get where I'm at is 3 mbit.

              You're a lucky guy. Even throttled, you would get better speed than just about anyone in the U.S., I'm sure.

              -Eric

              • by tyldis (712367)
                The article mentions you being limited to 650kbit from the content provider. That puts the 20mbit they sell into perspective.

                I pay over $100/month for 1mbit up 20 down and a static IP with my custom reverse DNS. I pay premium (at least compared to the other options here) and expect premium.
              • by gmack (197796)

                The problem is that North american telcos are lazy. The ISP [colba.net] I work for is rolling out 24mb adsl2+ in Montreal. The local telco is sitting at 3mb and they don't care even though they are losing customers to the local cable co who provides much faster service.

            • "The throttling begun in June, but it was not made public until September 30th when the National Broadcasting Corporation published a statement"

              Interestingly TeliaSonera was finishing up the acquisition of NextGenTel during this time. Was this just a test to see what the reaction of customers would be? If there was serious backlash the company was about to change names so TeliaSonera would not get a black eye. Or perhaps this is how TeliaSonera does business and the NextGenTel customers were getting a taste
          • by eirikso (1009135)
            The story appeared in the media just recently. At the time when the NRK had to start informing their users of the situation. The update was probably done to the original article at the same time it was posted here on Slashdot. And, even if NextGenTel have reversed their strategy, this example is important. They got away with it for three months before they turned.
          • This is not a non-issue. They may have backed down, but it's important to know that this kind of publicity can cause companies to change.
  • Slashdotters in Norway should call NextGenTel and ask if they give equal bandwidth to all hosts on the Internet. If they say no, say no thanks, wait an hour, and call again with the same question.

    Then repeat until you believe the message has been delivered. Bad luck if this crowd are a (near) monopoly.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Slashdotting a phoneline could become a new trend!
    • by hyfe (641811)
      The average waiting time for NextGenTel customer support is (was) well over an hour.

      So, as far as annoyance-factor vs costs goes, you're better off using your money buying trained chimps to harass their employees than sitting on the phone waiting for somebody to talk to. Going with the chimps, there's a Slightly better chance of intelligent conversation also.

      NextGenTel is 100% evil, utterly incompetent and offer damn fast connections really cheap.

      • by ultranova (717540)

        NextGenTel is 100% evil, utterly incompetent and offer damn fast connections really cheap.

        Except that they don't offer fast connections, not really. No matter how fast the ADSL part is, if the connection is throttled from there to the public Internet, the connection is not fast. Which means that this is an attempt at fraud.

        • by hyfe (641811)
          Except that they don't offer fast connections, not really.
          My personal experience, aswell as my friends, is that we're (or were) all getting close up to theoretical max. Most of us live in Trondheim though, so might be just here.
    • by bentcd (690786)
      With NextGenTel's customer service record, you'd be lucky to get someone answering the phone in one hour - on a good day. Your proposed action would see each slashdotter getting through once, maybe twice, per day. This would be more hassle for each of us than it is for them in total :-)
      The monopoly seat in Norway is generally held by Telenor, the ex-state telecoms monopoly. NextGenTel is a pretty big contender though.
  • Good (Score:5, Funny)

    by commodoresloat (172735) * on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @06:24AM (#16302757)
    I realize there are arguments in favor of network neutrality, but as a huge fan of alliteration, I'm really looking forward to reading the headline "Network Neutrality Nixed in Norway."
    • Favouring both network neutrality, and alliteration, I prefer "Network Neutrality NOT Nixed in Norway."
  • Update: It seems like the customers won this battle (link, to Norwegian article). Due to bad publicity and reactions from customers NextGenTel have removed the limit and NRK is now back on full speed in their network. What should I say? Thanks to the people contacting NextGenTel and to the blogs and media that understand how this was a serious violation to network neutrality.

    I'm glad to see that the bad publicity was enough to prevent it from sticking. Hopefully that's enough on this side of the world as

  • No! Next thing they'll be doing the throttling my Norwegian p0rn!
  • Look, increasing the costs of your bandwidth isn't stable proposition in a free market. Someone will come along and be cheaper. The governments should be doing their job to make sure there is a free market in place rather than a cartel. Make sure that anyone who does want to charge more has to make their exchange available to competitors.
     
    • Isn't Norway a big-off welfare/nanny state, so they wouldn't know that? :P
      • Well, we're actually quite well educated and you shouldn't have any problem finding people here who would know about that theory. Though I guess we prefer our current system as we get less crappy goods/services stuffed down our throats, like you guys do over there.
    • by jc42 (318812)
      Look, increasing the costs of your bandwidth isn't stable proposition in a free market.

      So where in the world is there a free market in bandwidth? I've never heard of such a thing.

      Someone will come along and be cheaper.

      Not if they can't get a license to operate, they won't.

  • Middle man trend (Score:2, Insightful)

    by joshsnow (551754)
    I think this is a trend that we'll have to get used to. When someone realises that they're in a position of power as an intermidary, they can, and often do, play both ends against each other for their own profit. It's a model employed by super-markets and record companies, price fixing by controlling supply and demand.

    ISPs already employ charging models based on usage per month for their customers(consumers), charging (content)suppliers based on usage is trivial for them.
    • by kjart (941720)

      The problem with this is that in this situation there are two middlemen. First, the consumer broadband company that is providing homes with internet. Secondly, the content providers themselves are paying a middleman for their own bandwidth. So, both middlemen are being payed at present. What the broadband companies want to do is to get payed by both parties, even though one of them is already paying someone else. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to pay both real estate agents when buying/selling

      • Psst. When you are buying a house, you are in fact paying for both real estate agents.
        • by kjart (941720)

          Psst. When you are buying a house, you are in fact paying for both real estate agents.

          Umm, wouldn't the buyer pay for their agent and the seller theirs? I guess it's coming out of the same pool of money, but that money is the seller's once the sale is made. Am I missing something (never bought a house, so quite possible).

          • by tomz16 (992375)
            The allowance for the buyers agents is decided in the contract between the seller and the listing agent. (I.E. the seller of the house pays a little bit to the listing agent, and a little bit to the buyers agent). If the house is sold by the lister, then they get all of that money.

            -Tom
    • Let's not get used to it without making some noise. To skip network neutrality is obviously a horrible thing to do from both the customer rights and freedom of speech point of view, and it will be a big step towards "totalitarian" corporation control of information and knowledge. Today's society is slowly defeloping towards this, but this has at least in some European countries been slowed down by strong consumer rights legislation. Those of us in europe who have grown up in real democracies don't want to
    • by GauteL (29207)
      "ISPs already employ charging models based on usage per month for their customers(consumers), charging (content)suppliers based on usage is trivial for them."

      True, although this doesn't mean that we have to let them. The consumers have already paid for the content to be delivered through the ISPs lines. The ISPs argument is thus thouroughly unfair, which content provider the consumer chooses should be irrelevant to the ISP as long as the consumer only uses of the ISPs resources as they have paid for.
  • It's not like Telia doesn't do the same....
    Although not as open about it as NextGenTel.
    Telia has a serious marketdominance in the ADSL-field and refuses to let smaller operators in to use the infrastructure without having to pay insane amounts of money.

    Peering is also a thing which Telia is abusing to their own ends. If you're not a big provider you can't get a peering to Telia (unless you pay insane amounts of money or know someone high up at Telia-sales).
    The way other operators have to go about and do is
  • I posted this to Slashdot yesterday and updated it minutes ago, just before it went live here on Slashdot. I think the example and story still is important. It took three months and a lot of bad publicity before they changed their mind.
  • .. for those that do not pay extra is sort of similar to a gas station demanding a higher price for cars that are fuel effective.
    • by lowe0 (136140)
      I think a closer analogy would be a gas station that charged more to drivers whose vehicle manufacturers don't pay an extra fee.
  • See how things work out:

    1. isp limits availability of site X
    2. people complain to site X
    3. X blows the horns that it's in fact isp's fault and everybody should contact the isp and nag 'em
    4. people nag isp
    5. isp caves in and removes the limit

    when the objective reason for the bad service is not in the provider and people are told this, they'll understand. They can still read and comprehend written text.

    so, what now: pro-neutrality or anti-neutrality? The truth is in the middle as always.

    as the Internet grows,
    • So why shouldn't I be able to choose how my traffic is allocated, whether by QOS at my own firewall (assuming they actually deliver the bandwidth they promise, which they often don't), or by QOS at the ISP that I can control (or at least disable) through a web interface? If there's fear of abuse, simply limit the amount of bandwidth that you can send at high priority.

      I'm all for making my VOIP calls crystal clear, if and only if I get full control over what is considered VOIP on my connection.

      And that elim
      • by suv4x4 (956391)
        So why shouldn't I be able to choose how my traffic is allocated, whether by QOS at my own firewall (assuming they actually deliver the bandwidth they promise, which they often don't), or by QOS at the ISP that I can control (or at least disable) through a web interface? If there's fear of abuse, simply limit the amount of bandwidth that you can send at high priority.

        Think about it and you'll realize the fallacy of your logic. If you allow the user to route anything as high priority, and limit the high prio
        • Think about it and you'll realize the fallacy of your logic. If you allow the user to route anything as high priority, and limit the high priority bandwidth, you get precisely what we have now.

          I don't think this is the case.

          Suppose your connection was a 5Mb/s burst pipe, but had a high-QoS component of 128kb/s. The system would only allow you to send a certain amount of high-priority packets per second -- if you exceeded that, it would start throwing them away or just strip the QoS flag and send them as nor
          • Thank you. This is actually exactly what I was describing, if parent had bothered to read -- I did say there would be a limit to how much bandwidth each customer could QOS, but not how they do it.

            This doesn't prevent ISPs from actually building new infrastructure and delivering "your bandwidth", the way they should. "Burst bandwidth" is a cop-out, especially when in many cases you will never, ever come even close to that speed, not even for a small "burst".
        • Think about it and you'll realize the fallacy of your logic. If you allow the user to route anything as high priority, and limit the high priority bandwidth, you get precisely what we have now.

          How is that even remotely like what we have now?

          For example, voip has high priority, 911 calls: highest.

          And if I wanted to set that for myself, I could, without interfering with anyone else.

          Right now the telecoms and ISP are very fragile if there's a "boom" of high bandwidth content, like happens with p2p download

    • by ergo98 (9391)
      2. people complain to site X

      While this may be the case for tech-related sites, I really doubt that the average user would bother complaining when Ask.com, for instance, is much slower than Google. They'll just get a worse user experience, and eventually they'll start using something else.
  • Surely giving customers what they pay for is not only reasonable but the only sane way to run a business? The basic problem here is the expectation that domestic broadband should be able to run at peak throughput, 24/7, for an attractive flat-rate price. That just isn't viable: the only reason it works is because most broadband users don't generate much traffic, yet.

    The two obvious solutions to this are to bill bandwidth-hogging consumers for the bandwidth they consume, or to increase the flat-rate cost to

    • by u2boy_nl (927513)
      The basic problem here is the expectation that domestic broadband should be able to run at peak throughput, 24/7, for an attractive flat-rate price.

      But that's exactly what the ISP's are selling right?

      If the ISP is unable to offer this then maybe they shouldn't have sold it to their customers in the first place?

      They just assumed that not all costumers would use their full bandwith, they estimated the avarage bandwith use.

      When is turns out that their estimate is wrong then that's their problem, not m
      • by melonman (608440)

        No, it isn't what they are selling. In the small-print of every ISP I've looked at, they say that the peak throughput is not guaranteed. If you want a 1:1 contention rate, there are ISPs that will sell it to you - at a price. My non-guaranteed ADSL package costs me a few dollars a month. The same ISP will sell me ADSL with a 1:1 contention rate for several hundred dollars a month...

        The same goes for hosting packages. A lot of the "fabulous monthly bandwidth for 35 cents" offers work by throttling per-secon

        • by u2boy_nl (927513)
          No, it isn't what they are selling. In the small-print of every ISP I've looked at, they say that the peak throughput is not guaranteed.

          Yes, that's what the small print says.

          Based on that no costumer should expect peak throughput 24 hours a day.

          Yet when i watch an ad from my local ISP it's telling me that i'll have a superfast connection, and how i'll be able to download movies and music at the speed of light 24 hours a day, with no download limits. *

          Though technically they are not promising it, in
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      There is another solution: Actually start lighting up all the dark fiber, build the infrastructure that our tax dollars are supposedly paying for, and deliver actual, real, reliable bandwidth. This will probably be a result of increasing the flat-rate cost, which will probably be a result of ever more people discovering ways to actually use the bandwidth they're given. I have a housemate who's not very technically inclined, but watches live baseball games on his Powerbook, so we are going to have to face
    • The two obvious solutions to this are to bill bandwidth-hogging consumers for the bandwidth they consume, or to increase the flat-rate cost to a point where it covers a much lower contention rate than at present. Both those options are desperately unpopular, so it looks like the ISP tried making the figures add up another way.

      The funny thing here in Germany is that usage-dependent but reasonable billing for larger data volumes seems absent in the end-user market. You either get
      -really cheap access for a few

    • by Ashtead (654610)

      That's all and well, but the problem here isn't just that the ISP (NextGenTel) isn't delivering the announced data speed. If the source of this data can't sustain the maximum speed promised to the customer, the latter will get whatever is available. All nice and well, nothing to see there.

      However, the issue at hand here was that the ISP itself decided that a certain media site (NRK) could not be allowed to deliver at its max throughput, but would be limited by an action of this ISP. At the same time ther

      • by melonman (608440)
        It's part of the same issue insofar as the ISP needs to balance its books. Their solution was effectively to tax the providers, starting with the biggest one, and it sounds like it would have boiled down to an indirect government subsidy. Getting money from the providers means they need less money from the end users. And the consumer organisation is out of touch with the realities of broadband costs, which sounds par for the course.
    • by Crowly0 (1007081)
      (comments not just to parent post)

      I have a friend that works in the sales department for the buisness market at Telenor, he told me that first the ISP's competed over price, and when the price reach the floor (or close to it) they started to offer more bandwidth for the same price. They cant lower their prices anymore, but they can increase the bandwidth. Atm i pay 447 NOK (67.50 USD)/month for a 10/2 Mbit cable connection flat rate, i consider that pretty cheap.
      As bandwidth grow users will ofcourse start t
      • This is how the market is supposed to work.

        The only problem that I see, if the ISPs there are anything like the ISPs in the U.S., is that they engage in what I consider to be the razor's edge of false advertising. By selling you a 10Mb* pipe, they actually oversell their network. They don't have nearly the capacity it would take to let everyone use what they've sold them.

        We need to stop this behavior. Yes, in the short run it might lead to prices increasing, but it would only be increasing back to the level
  • by jgrimstveit (980454) <jakob@grimstveit.no> on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @07:38AM (#16303073) Homepage
    ITavisen today (reports [itavisen.no] that NextGenTel has decided not to go forward with this any more. Rough'n'quick translation:
    NextGenTel follows NRK
    By André Lorentsen,
    Wed 4. okt 2006 kl. 04:00

    NextGenTel customers can now again see NRKs web-tv in full speed.

    Norways second largest broadband supplier, NextGenTel [nextgentel.no], reduced in June the transfer speed from NRK.no [www.nrk.no] to it's broadband customers. The motivation was to cut costs.

    - We cannot increase the capasity on our lines at the same pace as the free offers from NRK, said marketing director, Morten Ågnes in NextGenTel in a comment to Forbruker.no [forbruker.no].

    Fotball viewers pays

    But the football leage have always had full speed.

    The football league is a payment subscription service, and then we get paid to transfer the programs to our customers, was the comment from the marketing director.

    Network manager Bjarn Andre Myklebust in NRK did not like the new strategy from NextGenTel. TV2 [tv2.no] and NextGenTel have always had a very good relationship.

    - We don't like that our products get a lower quality when being delivered to the end user, and I guess the customers don't like it very much either. Our principle is that we deliver a high quality product to every broadband companies. From there on it's their responsibility, Myklebust says to NRK.

    Crossed customers

    To show where the responsibility was, the web director of NRK.no published a message to the customers of NextGenTel. At the same time the maximum speed on NRK's web-tv was reduced to 650 kbps for NextGenTel's customers.

    The strategy paid off. Now NextGenTel has changed it's mind and have set the capacity back to the same level as before the reduction in June.

    - I got a phone from NextGenTel tuesday morning. They told that they had received some negative feedback from their customers, and that they had realized that this wouldn't work, Myklebust proceeds.

    Roles

    He claims it was important for NRK to use this case to underline the roles between content producer and distributor.

    - It is important for us to show that we deliver content, and that it is the distributors that have to make sure the customers get what they already have paid for.

    The case have also lead to renewed dialog between NRK and NextGenTel.

    - We are in dialog about long term planning when it comes to transfer speeds. We also evaluate the possibility of a commercial cooperation about paid content from NRK, Myklebust says.
  • Forget Norway!

    We're goin' to Kenya.
    • by eBunny (907385)
      Great, no more worrying over network neutrality degrading any further, then! I'm packing my bags as we speak..
  • So what stops NextGenTel from deciding to throttle bandwidth NKR (or any content provider) again, but the next time, only in a more subtle way? Like, throttling only during Internet rush hour, or routing that content provider's packets at a lower preference to other packets? How can you prove that NextTelGen is behind the lower performance, and not "Internet congestion at rush hour"?
  • Someone please explain why they think the net is, or can ever be truely neutral. In my area AT&T Yahoo offers small businesses 3 connections 384K-786K, 1.5M-3M, and 3M-6M; for enterprise customers they offer OC-48 to OC-192... you get what you pay for. Every connection is a consumer and any connection can be a "Content Provider", there is no way to guarantee equal access to every content provider. The alternative is the least-common-denominator and have dial-up only, then it would just depend on
    • "Net Neutrality" isn't about paying more for more bandwidth from a service provider. It's about making people who aren't connected to your network pay for you to transfer data at normal speed through your network to your subscribers, who are themselves paying to use the bandwidth. It's like the post office offering to a business the option to pay an annual fee - or have all their mail delivered two weeks later than it should be.
    • by Todd Knarr (15451)

      It's neutral in the same way UPS is neutral about delivering packages. UPS cares about how big and heavy your package is and how far it has to go. They could care less about who's sending it, who's receiving it or what's in it (modulo whether it contains any hazardous materials). For a 12-inch cube box weight 1lb going from Los Angeles to New York via standard ground, UPS charges exactly the same price to everyone. They're going to charge more for a 5lb package than a 1lb package, but they don't charge more

  • Maybe the solution will have to have some sort of financial incentive for those broadband companies to remain neutral.

    For instance, since in this case, NextGenTel-whatever is getting paid by other companies to prioritize their data, why not apply a special tax (as well as reduction or inelligibility for govt grants and assistance programs) on it....such much so that it would cost NextGenTel more to unneutral than to be neutral even with the higher cost of the extra bandwidth needed.

    Or maybe just the threat/
  • Impose bandwidth and download limits.

    Way back when 9600 was "high speed" data access, you could lease a 9600bps line with varying levels of utilisation. For example, that line leased at 20% utilisation was charged at about one third the price of a 40% utilisation contract.

    The modern equivalent is data volume quotas split up into peak/offpeak times. If you exceed the quota, you get charged more (but keep the speed), or have your bandwidth shaped (eg: 1.5Mbps normally, 70kbps shaped) in order to allow other u
  • Folks
    I wrote a strong article following up this story but after talking with the CEO decided to hold it back. I believe strongly in the open net, and have publicly debated against Verizon and AT&T on Net Neutrality. I urge caution in this case. Besides the update that NRK and NextGenTel had resolved all differences and are peering at a gigabit, Stokke provided numerous details of his open video peering policy. There is ambiguity in their official statement about peering and commercial arrangements tha

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