Taiwan Attempts to Set New Precedent to Fine Internet Service Providers for Lying

In an unprecedented move by the Taiwanese government, they moved to pass legislation that will allow them to fine internet service providers for not delivering advertised claims. These claims are in regards to the use of throttling by the internet service providers (ISP).

According to the National Communications Commission (NCC) Chairwoman Su Herng, any ISP falling short of advertised claims involving broadband speeds will be open to a fine. This is only a start but it could certainly open up a huge can of worms across the world. Asia is quickly becoming the dominant force in tech which makes this move more serious than some might think.

Considering that throttling is a huge problem in today’s society, this movement could mean a lot to consumers. Many of these people are unaware of the term throttling or how pervasive it actually is. To those unaware of what throttling is, Wikipedia defines it as the “reactive measure employed in communication networks to regulate network traffic and minimize bandwidth congestion. Bandwidth throttling can occur at different locations on the network.” Throttling can be a real problem, especially for those who need the continued speed for their careers or businesses.

Through the use of misleading advertising, it makes consumers even more unaware of exactly what internet service providers are doing. Most ads throughout the world are well regulated, however not in this case. ISP’s are not required to blatantly state that they throttle, much less to what extent they do it. A move to require a more obvious display of how much each ISP throttles is much needed.

Taiwan is definitely at the head of this movement. They will begin checking broadband speeds of local telecom operators. These checks come amid a public outcry of allegations that internet service providers are overcharging for slow internet services. This could cause a slow ripple across Asia and possibly lead to changes in Europe and the US. This would be a very welcome move seeing as how many ISPs such as AT&T and Verizon are well known for throttling their services shortly after the customer begins to receive service.

On one hand, this is only a start. The checks by the NCC in Taiwan will only be looking at the operations plans that are submitted to the committee. Where as they do not have any current plans to fully keep the providers to the word in terms of all advertising. There needs to be a two stage approach. One front needs to be in checking the reports that are turned into the appropriate governmental agency. The other front needs to be on the advertising side. The committee charged with checking the accuracy of advertising in a given country needs to work closely with a governmental agency that has the ability to issue fines and penalties.

Throttling is not only associated with home internet, it is also prevalent in the mobile market as well. AT&T recently announced that it will begin throttling its 4G with unlimited data plans users as soon as they hit 5GB of usage. This may seem like a lot of data, however for someone who truly needs a vast amount of data and high speed for something such as work, 5GB might not seem like that much.

In the end, much of the discussion comes down to transparency. Throttling is definitely an issue that needs to be talked about more, and Taiwan is starting that conversation. No longer can we allow mobile broadband carriers to promise one thing, and yet limit it at the same time.

Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jcuthrell/4306049240/sizes/m/in/photostream/

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