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Consumer Broadband Monitoring Feasibility

This is a proposal to have the RIPE NCC, as a neutral body, develop a way of measuring performance for consumer broadband networks. The proposal requests funding for a limited deployment prototype with the purpose of assessing industry and consumer acceptance, functional requirements and technical issues.

a. Arguments supporting the proposal:

Consumer broadband penetration is increasing. Broadband voice and video are gaining marketplace acceptance. As competition heats up and prices decline consumer choices multiply. Measuring Internet connectivity performance becomes more important.

Quantifying performance is advantageous to both producers and consumers. The former can justify brand premium pricing with tangible metrics, whilst the later can be assured of product quality. In addition, measurement decreases the likelihood of regulatory interference.

While the advantages of measurement may be evident, it is unclear what entity should perform it. Providers have, at least, a perceived conflict of interests. The funding of a government agency to protect the consumer is equally unrealistic.

The RIPE NCC is a member owned organisation, whose neutrality puts it in the unique position of being an acceptable measurement authority. Started as a mostly service provider organisation, the RIPE NCC’s membership now includes civil, military, academic and EU government representation. Consumer organisation and bulk bandwidth buyers are likely to soon follow as the economics of IP are making voice and video services more dependent on the Internet. This view is supported by both anecdotal evidence, as supplied by members of the volunteer advisory board below, and the popularity of http://www.dslreports.com, amongst others.

RIPE is a forum where policy can be discussed and made because it is not a stake holder in the bandwidth market. The above ideas have been discussed during the RIPE 50 Test Traffic Working Group Meeting. Minutes suggest the action consensus: to initiate the next stage by formally requesting funding for a limited deployment prototype with the purpose of assessing industry and consumer acceptance, functional requirements and technical issues.

b. Arguments opposing the proposal:

  • None