The internet has now become a complete world in itself. From interacting with friends to selling and buying products and services, everything is now done on the online platform. Now, the internet acts as a fundamental platform for innovation and economic growth in every corner of the world.
But with network operators using traffic shaping techniques and bringing in congestion management, new problems popped up on the online platform. Many people thought that network operators might use traffic management practices for giving preferred treatment. And others thought that unethical practices to enhance revenue might hamper the healthy competition. All these issues gave birth to net neutrality.
Net neutrality is the principle that all the data available on the internet should be treated equally by various organizations like network operators and governments, regardless of content, user, platform and device used. But even after the introduction of net neutrality, which levels the playing field for everyone, different councils and unions acted differently on it. On one side, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to revoke net neutrality while, on the other side, the European Union strongly agreed to it.
Along with adopting policies for safeguarding open access, the new European Regulation also included the quality of experience as one of the most important parameters in net neutrality. An internet service provider needs to include the following things in the contract:-
- Everything about the maximum and minimum downloading speed should be clearly mentioned in the contract. Additionally, the availability of the internet connection should also be specified in the contract if it is a fixed network.
- If the internet service provider is offering a mobile network, then the estimated maximum and minimum speed along with the advertised download and upload speed of the internet service should be clearly mentioned in the contract. The deviation from the advertised downloading and uploading speed should also be mentioned in the contract.
- The remedies available to the customers in case of any type of discrepancy between the actual performance of the internet service and the promised performance should also be mentioned clearly.
What are the challenges faced by regulators and internet service providers?
Because of the introduction of new European regulations, now national regulatory agencies have to enforce and monitor an EU compliance national implementation. Because of this, different initiatives are now being adopted like sourcing of a reference system for Net Neutrality Measurement Tool by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications and a completely new voluntary code of conduct that was released during 2018 by UK regulator Ofcom.
The remedy aspect of the new European Union regulation is acting as a higher OPEX for internet service providers. This is also increasing the churn rate of subscribers and cash outlay. But if we look at this from a different angle, then we can say that it is also allowing the internet service providers to give better internet service. So, on one side, the new regulation might be acting as a big hurdle for the network providers but on the other side, it is also giving them an opportunity to work on their service and improve it.
Measuring fixed access through the quality of experience
If you look for a replacement for quality of experience, which is used as a basic tool of assessment, then the first thing that will come to your mind will be speed, and this is why network speed assessment is conducted. But network speed assessment doesn’t give a clear indication of the internet performance. There is no doubt that the errorless throughput measurement is very necessary, but for quality of experience, you will surely need a more dedicated and planned approach. Let’s understand this with xDSL in which there is a tradeoff between the Signal to Noise Ratio. If the target set of signal to noise ratio will be low then it will result in an irregular connection. This is why one needs to consider the availability of connection over a specific period.
Due to their different designs, the access networks are mostly oversubscribed. You should know that there is a resource connection on the last mile for few networks that share HFC. But for all other networks that don’t have a medium, the resource connection is available at each node. This is the main reason why the throughput measurement can’t be manual and it needs to be automated. In addition to this, the throughput measurement should be scheduled regularly so that the highest point can also be measured.
The challenge that comes along with Wi-Fi
Many people don’t agree on the fact that wireless internet services like WIFI acts as a bottleneck for the networks. But you should know that according to the new measurements that were conducted on large networks, it was found that the throughput of home Wi-Fi can reduce very dramatically. The measurement is applicable for both 2 .4 GHz and 5 GHz bandwidth. This is one of the biggest challenges that come along with Wi-Fi. But soon, with the release of the ultra-fast broadband, all the issues related to Wi-Fi will be wiped out.
The received signal strength acts as one of the best parameters to analyze the performance of the Wi-Fi service. There is no denial in the fact that if there is no signal available then the chances of bad service increase. But the problem is that good coverage doesn’t always mean good Wi-Fi connection and this is where the main problem starts. If an internet service provider has opted for a programmatic approach, then the service provider will be directly responsible for the bad in-house Wi-Fi service. But that is not the situation in all the cases as many internet service providers don’t use a programmatic approach.
Net neutrality is surely an important part of the online world as the guidelines stated in the net neutrality concept levels the playing field for everyone. But due to the different approaches used by different councils and countries, net neutrality has surely become a complicated topic.