Watchdog tells ISPs to pull their socks up

British telecoms watchdog Ofcom has barked that broadband suppliers should be clearer about how they manage traffic on their networks and the speeds users can expect to achieve.

Apparently Mr Ofcom is jolly cross that BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk, restrict the speed of some bandwidth heavy services such as peer-to-peer file sharing without making it clear enough what they are doing.

Ofcom Chief Executive Ed Richards told Reuters  that the ISPs plans to voluntarily publishing data on traffic management do not go far enough and Ofcom wants them to make them clearer.  At the moment traffic speeds and throttling polices are written by a poet and then put on display in a locked filing cabinet, in a disused toilet, behind a locked door marked “beware of the leopard”.

If they do not pull their collective socks up, then Ofcom will force them to do so as the methods that ISPs use to control access to the Internet affects everyone, Richards said.

Richards did not have much problem with traffic management, unless it was being used by ISPs to target competing services without its users knowing.

However he thinks that ISPs should make traffic management information available at the point of sale. Punters need to know about the speed they can expect, the impact of traffic management, and whether any specific services would be blocked.