LIVE: TRAI's Net Neutrality open house discussion on traffic management practices

"12:45pm: Professor van Schewick: There is no Net Neutrality left at the federal level in the US. I don’t think any of you is looking at the current US system as a model. The chairman said he’d love an industry-led model for traffic management. While I understand the sentiment, when we allow ISPs to regulate themselves in terms of TMPs, we got results that were bad for consumers. The UK is a key example. In my submission I cited a paper by two scientists who studied what happened in the UK. Even though the UK is a great competitive market with disclosure, ISPs opted for discriminatory TMPs that singled out specific applications and classes of applications, causing problems for gamers, and others who were not intended to be affected. The job of a private company is to maximise profits, and not to do what is in public interest. I’m glad that DoT left this job with TRAI. We don’t want to burden ISPs with prescriptive regulation. But right now, the current framework adopted is under-specified. You should look back at how many pages have to be laid out. In the US, traffic management is about thirty pages.

We don’t need to produce thirty pages, but the discussion has shown that there are critical aspects that we remain uncertain about. It seems people are not sure whether TRAI actually believes TMPs should be as application-agnostic as possible, and are wondering if class-based TMPs are possible. There is room for very targeted specification. The other gap I’d point out is the line between specialised services and the open internet.

Specialised services should only have permitted differentiation if such differentiation is actually necessary.

When Comcast was instructed to manage their traffic in an application-agnostic way, other providers followed suit. Clear rules lead to compliance, while gray areas allow ISPs to test regulations.


"1:07pm: Prof. van Schewick: In the US, we have found that it is important to find detailed information about how ISPs are managing their networks. In the US, the FCC pointed out that different audiences have different needs. The final point on disclosure is that it might be worth thinking about how good and detailed disclosure requirements are for small ISPs.

In terms of monitoring enforcement, it’s not clear how people can submit complaints, and that is a critical element."


"2:03pm: Prof. van Schewick: I have concerns on the MSB. If traffic management rules are enforced without public participation and comments, proceedings would not be inclusive. Based on my experience with varying Net Neutrality proceedings around the world, it’s only the regulator who can resolve contradictions between different interests. I would be worried that even if MSB has an advisory role, ultimately, the idea of giving one recommendation to the regulator hides a lot of complexity that it’s the job of the regulator to make trade-offs based on the broadest possible input.

If you do want an MSB, I would support the comments by the public interest and civil society groups that say that broad stakeholder participation happens. I would be opposed to fees, especially for non-profit organisations. Voting rights should not be tied to fees. The best approach is to put complaints out for notice and comment."