Goodbye network neutrality in Norway

Disclaimer: I work for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. But, I find the question of network neutrality of great importance, regardless of the fact that this time I work for the content provider that have been influenced.

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.

Original article:

In June 2006 NextGenTel, one of the biggest broadband providers in Norway decided to deliberately limit the bandwidth from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK). Meaning that customers of NextGenTel in Norway will experience a lower quality of service on content from the NRK compared to content from the providers that want to pay NextGenTel for distribution.

Because broadband customers in general don’t understand where the bottle neck really is they call the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation when they experience low quality on the large selection of free content from the NRK. To solve this the NRK have informed their users on their own web site:

A message for customers of NextGenTel

In june 2006 NextGenTel decreased the transfer capacity from to customers of NextGenTel considerably.

This leads to a situation where you as a customer of NextGenTel will experience a completely different quality on for instance NRK Broadband-TV, compared to what the NRK actually offers their users.

This is outside of NRK’s control and any communication regarding this should be done directly with NextGenTel.

(Translated to english by Eirik Solheim)

The CEO of NextGenTel, Morten Ã…gnes tells the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten that they will give priority to the content providers that pay for better bandwidth.

Torgeir Waterhouse in 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.

He says to ITAvisen that it is critical for a digital community that broadband customers are able to choose the content they want and that the content should not be influenced by agreements of preferences by the network operators.

I couldn’t agree more. NextGenTel wants payment in both ends. From their customers and from the content providers. They want more control and who knows what kind of strange business models they bring in once they get acceptance for this kind of differentiation.

So what’s the solution then? Well, fortunately it’s an open market. If you’re a customer of NextGenTel in Norway I would recommend you to consider a change of broadband provider immediately.

God knows what they do next…

“Oh, so you like videos from that popular indie web site? Sorry, but Warner pays more, so as long as you’re a customer of us you should use them instead.”

I don’t need to explain why the issue of network neutrality is important. That has been done before. Here are some references:

We’re up for some interesting discussions here in Norway the next copule of weeks.

Please note: Initially I decided not to comment on this case, but because it is such a serious issue and of great interest for my readers I have decided to publish my thoughts.

This article is not an official statement from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. As stated on my about-page this is the private web page of Eirik Solheim and should not be read as the official opinions of my current or former places of work.

Digg this story.

Goodbye network neutrality in Norway

24 thoughts on “Goodbye network neutrality in Norway

  1. Demand network neutrality…

    I’m glad I have just decided to change broadband provider, away from NextGenTel. Why – because now it appears that the company is blatantly violating the principle of network neutrality by limiting the bandwidth from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corpora…

  2. Amel says:

    I think the issue is more complex than nextgentel is being given credit for. this isn’t actually their fault. the issue is that more and more broadcasters and other website operators are choosing to push video content, making significant revenue, from advertizing and other sources of income, but leaving the network operators to bear much of the delivery cost.

    nextgentel is just the start, other service providers will follow suit throughout europe, as this is likely to be the next major regulatory question facing the broadband sector.

  3. Pieter says:

    Internetproviders want to provide their customers with as fast as possible connections. If they don’t people will move to a competitor. They however do not want their customers to use the bandwidth because this costs money.

    Technically both the contentprovider and the customers are the same: they pay for a connection to the internet to exchange communications.
    If the process of contentproviders having to pay the broadband providers gets a foothold we will be in for a whole new internet.

  4. Amel:
    Yes, the issue is far more complex than I have described here. Please also follow the links I have put in for reference. There you’ll find more info on this challenge.

    However, to simply throttle the bandwidth from one (mostly free) public broadcaster without informing the customers is not the way to go.

    “…we will be in for a whole new internet”. Absolutely!

  5. Gee I’m glad that Norwegian consumers have reacted and forced the broadband provider back to NetNeutrality. However this seems just this case. Have they pledged to never ever do it again. What if they start doing it to smaller outfits, where the consumer masses won’t stand up that numerous?

    I don’t know how the process is in Norway. however in the U.S. all broadband providers, at least those with land based cables, need a license from the towns and counties. Despite all efforts to solve this in the debating chambers of Congress, the real power is on the local level. These local licenses need to stipulate what kind of services are allowed to deliver and that NetNeutrality must be guaranteed. We are all consumers and we are all dwellers in some local entity. And this is where we should demand equal access to public property.

    Just my thoughts,

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