Net Neutrality II

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On February 10, 2014, the Knesset passed the extension of net neutrality to wireline providers, so Israel now has a generally applicable statutory net neutrality framework. See footnote [1] for a free translation of the relevant provisions into English.

It’s important to note that the law is vague on a number of important questions – such as data caps, tiered pricing, paid prioritization, and paid peering. See footnote [2] for explanations of that terminology. Generally, these are ways of structuring Internet transactions in a way that grants privileged status to Internet traffic with certain origins, but they can presumably be implemented without “blocking or degrading” other Internet traffic. The new law does not really address the complex issues raised by these kinds of network transactions. (The legislative history does not address these questions either) I suppose these issues will be addressed in the regulations that the law authorizes the Minister of Communications to issue.

See this previous post for some more interesting tidbits regarding the law.

Footnotes

[1] The FCC Open Internet Order was an almost 200 page behemoth. The relevant provisions of the Telecommunications Law – 1982, as amended by the recent bill, would be nary a mosquito on its back. The law, as now amended, provides (in free translation):

“51C(b) A license holder … shall not cause the blocking or degradation of the following, whether directly or indirectly, and including by way of imposing tariffs:
(1) The ability of a subscriber to use all services or applications provides over the Internet;

(c) Section (b)(1) shall not apply to blocking or degradation required by reasonable and fair network management … . The Minister [of Communications] is authorized to provide regulations that shall set forth what shall be considered reasonable network management.

[2] I think we all know what “data caps” are. Data caps are often combined with tiered pricing. For example, your ISP may provide you with service at a flat rate up to a certain amount of data, and charge users that exceed those limits.

Paid prioritization” means that one network pays another to give priority to the first network’s IP packets. For example, an Internet content provider may pay a Internet service provider to mark the content provider’s IP packets for priority. A content provider would pay for this service in order to ensure quality of service for its customers.

Paid peering” is somewhat more complicated. “Peering” is the practice of two networks (whether ISPs or content providers) exchanging data directly. “Paid peering” means that one network pays another network for the privilege of being able to exchange data directly. The direct exchange of data, rather than going through other networks, allows for more efficient and reliable connectivity.

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