INTUG Participates in OECD Meeting

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Working Party for Communications and Information Services Policy (CISP) recently held its biannual meeting in Paris.

The meeting attracted around 150 delegates from 30 countries, and INTUG was, as usual, very active in contributing business user views on priority topics, notably fixed broadband, international termination charges, Quality of Service and IPv6 Transition.

The meeting also launched the new OECD Communications Outlook 2013, which includes a wealth of statistical information on all forms of communication services in the 34 OECD countries, comparing prices, penetration, usage and trends in technology developments. In the future, the OECD Outlook will be broadened to cover all aspects of ICT, staring in 2015.


The meeting acknowledged that broadband is already the norm almost globally, and that many factors are driving up demand for higher speeds including convergence and new applications, like video streaming, the Internet of Things/M2M, smart homes, mobile data, telepresence and cloud computing. In most places, especially where there is no widespread cable network, fiber is currently needed to get much beyond 10-20 Mbps, although faster mobile broadband is not far away and has arrived in many places.

Because of high cost for fiber roll out, some countries are going for VDSL2 vectoring for 40-100 Mbps, but vectoring is actually banned in some countries, for example in France.

In its intervention at the meeting, INTUG noted that service differentiation via traffic management is essential but discriminatory throttling and blocking must be prevented.

SME experience of availability often conflicts with publicized broadband coverage figures due largely to location-dependent limitations applying to non-fiber broadband connections.

Business users strongly resist the ETNO proposal for content based interconnection charges, and INTUG said what really adds value is service-based competition not wasteful investment in inefficient infrastructure duplication beyond resilience needs. In conclusion, INTUG said the suppressed business demand for superfast broadband was significant.

International Termination Charges

Some countries, including in Africa and the Caribbean, have begun eliminating competition by setting high termination rates for incoming international traffic – a throwback to the era pre 1990s with accounting rates and settlement charges as a form of withholding tax.

A stark example is Rwanda: it is now six times more expensive to call neighboring Rwanda from Burundi than India.

The Eastern African Cooperation Organisation has said this is damaging trade. Israel has specifically regulated against such practice. The effect has been to suppress traffic. The countries involved claim that the cost applies only to wealthy/foreign users, that retail rates are not affected, that there is no reduction in traffic/revenue, and there is no conflict with international agreements.

All these claims are untrue based on available evidence. Wealthy users bypass with VoIP, and it hits the diaspora poor instead; retail rates have gone up by 14% pa v 9% pa; traffic has reduced by 50%; and it contravenes the GATS. Economically, this double taxation puts the price above an efficient monopoly.

INTUG will be making a written submission expressing serious concerns about the impact of this practice on international online business with the countries involved.

Quality of Service

There is increased demand for empirical evidence of actual service quality on fixed and mobile networks to inform policy decisions, to promote competition, to provide consumer protection and to enable ISP comparison. Four methods were outlined:

  1. End-user Application Measurement (EAM)
  2. End user Device Measurement (EDM)
  3. Project Self Measurement (PSM)
  4. PSM implemented by ISPs (PSM-ISP)

Seventeen countries have implemented one or more of these measurement techniques. Some have proposed crowdsourcing of open app software downloaded into devices, but there is a danger that it will be impossible to make comparisons due to a wide range of different competing tools – a standard would be better but many NRAs are reluctant to stipulate a requirement for such monitoring or to do it themselves. The possibility of BEREC doing this for the EU has been considered and rejected.

INTUG contributed to the debate, saying that QoS, including speed measurement is a holy grail for business users, and has been for decades. It will be especially so for mobile broadband access. Crowdsourced data has merit since it gives an independent picture of mobile network performance and utilization and socio-economic mobile network utilization and handset information. The approach would be much more valuable with a common tool and method allowing inter-operator/inter-country comparisons.

IPv4 to IPv6 Transition

The OECD feels strongly that a push is necessary to encourage adoption of IPv6, as it is essential for the future development of the Internet ecosystem. The Working Party is considering proposing that the OECD Council make a Recommendation (the strongest action OECD can take) but this was resisted strongly by the US, the UK, France, Japan and others, who thought it was too technical. The biggest obstacle is that IPv6 is not backwards compatible and while most customer equipment and web software are still not IPv6 interoperable ISPs need IPv4.

This is similar to the elimination of analog TVs to produce the digital dividend, but with greater cost and complexity for swap put. There is a need to create market forces to enable IPv4 and IPv6 devices and applications to interoperate by being dual mode. INTUG has not intervened on this topic but recognizes that it is an issue of global concern.

In the meantime, once IPv4 addresses are exhausted, business get round the problem with Network Address Translation (NAT devices) and ISPs get round it at a higher level with Carrier Grade NATs (CGNs). This adds complexity to operation, reduces reliability and performance, and creates some limitations on flexibility.

Source: INTUG

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