Today’s major Ofcom study on the UK’s communications networks shows the number of people unable to get a decent broadband has gone down in the UK. Read our plans to do more for rural areas: https://t.co/zaDnEI0d0T

ISPA Conference 2007

Monday 30th October

The ISPA Conference was held on Tuesday 30th October 2007. Kindly hosted by law firm Eversheds and sponsored by Brightfilter, Playlouder, Avanti and Redback, the Conference provided an unique opportunity for members to discuss a variety of pertinent Internet issue with relevant stakeholders from across industry. The event, which included a keynote speech by Minister for Competitiveness Stephen Timms, was extremely well attended with useful sessions on Broadband, convergence, defamation, appropriate pricing models and copyright.

The Conference was opened before a crowded room by ISPA Secretary-General Nicholas Lansman.

Keynote Speech from Rt Hon Stephen Timms

The Minister was then invited before delegates to deliver the keynote speech. Mr Timms began by highlighting the importance of the Internet as a powerful driver of competitiveness and called for "major investment" in next generation networks, particularly in access to fibre-to-the-home.

The Minister lauded the ways in which technology provides social and economic opportunities for those who previously did not have the opportunities, particularly those from deprived areas. The Minister reinforced the value of self-regulation, stating that it was almost always preferable to Government regulation and praised the efforts of ISPs and rightsholders to engage in positive dialogue. The Minister did, however, express his disappointment that no overall agreement had been reached on the issue of copyright infringements over P2P networks.

The Minister lauded ISPA's contribution to Byron Review and the wider issue of ensuring that people are supported to make the right choices on the Internet.

Following the conclusion of the speech, Mr Timms kindly agreed to take questions from delegates. In response to a question about the possibility of giving the eCommerce Regulations prospective effect, the Minister replied that he wanted to make progress on the issue and was "optimistic" about this. Questions were also asked on the importance of an appropriate framework for future regulation and access to broadband in rural areas.

The Minister's speech is available in full here.

Broadband Issues

The first session of the day was on Broadband issues. Delegates heard interesting speeches from Gavin Young from Cable & Wireless, Tom Kiedrowski from Ofcom, Mike Furby of Redback and James Blessing from Entanet.

Technical presentations were given by Gavin Young and Mike Furby, with James Blessing posing some interesting questions regarding the increasing levels of Internet traffic.

Tim Kiedrowski from Ofcom spoke about the forthcoming EU Directive due out in November. He explained that Ofcom are in favour of the first two recommendations – greater freedom for consumers to move around and the promotion of transparency - but do not want the extra power to impose minimum service requirements.

Other issues raised during the session were the changing way in which broadband is being delivered is changing, along with the increase in internet traffic and the growing tendency of personalisation of internet services for the consumer.

Following the presentations, there was a question and answer session. ISPA's response to Ofcom's Consumer Panel's comments on advertised speeds was raised, as was with the effects of the increasing use of Peer2Peer and on traffic.

Copies of the presentations given are available at the end of this document.

Panel Discussion on Convergence

The panel discussion on convergence was chaired by Michael Nutley from New Media Age. Sitting on the panel alongside Michael were Dom Robinson from GlobalMIX, Dave Simpson from BSkyB and Mark Swarbrick from BERR.

The salient point raised during this session was the importance of a framework to cover changes in the market for convergence. The importance of an open market with universal access to content and a good regulatory environment to help businesses in a fast moving industry was also discussed. The panel also touched on the importance of net neutrality.

The session was followed by a presentation by Founder and CEO of Brightfilter, Peter Hodgson, on the services that his company offer to ISPs.

Defamation Workshop

One of the workshops offered in the afternoon was on defamation on the Internet. The workshop was chaired by specialist Eversheds defamation lawyer Kath Livingston, with panellists Mark Gracey from THUS, Anthony Jeeves from the Personal Injury and Compensation Unit at the Ministry of Justice and Malcolm Hutty from LINX.

Each panellist was given the chance to present an opening statement. These statements touched on the history of defamation on the Internet, the operational challenges that claims of defamation presented and possible options for the future. The workshop was then opened to the floor with extensive comments and questions coming from those who had chosen to attend.

With the Ministry of Justice intending to publish a consultation on defamation, the workshop provided a perfect forum for industry, Government and legal representatives to discuss constructive methods for improving the current system of dealing with defamation claims.

Appropriate Pricing Models

The second workshop offering following lunch was on the subject of appropriate pricing models. The workshop was chaired by Samantha Yorke from Microsoft, with panellists James Blessing from Entanet, Peter Milford of Newnet and Nicholas Lansman from ISPA.

Each panellist was given the opportunity to briefly outline where pricing structures stood at the present time and issues of importance, touching on the increasing use of bandwidth, Peer2Peer issues, problems of advertising and the desire to remain self-regulatory with a possible code of conduct.

The workshop was then opened up to the floor and participants contributed to a constructive debate. It was agreed that working through ISPA to increase consumer awareness through transparency was a key factor.

With Ofcom’s consumer panel currently looking internet pricing, this session provided a useful forum for industry and regulators to voice their opinion.

Copyright

The afternoon session on copyright was the final part of the day. The speakers for the session were Paddy Gardiner from Eversheds, Thomas Dillon, VP & Deputy General Counsel EMEA of the Motion Picture Association and Phil Davies, Head of Investigations at BSkyB. Mark Gracey from Thus and Paul Hitchman of Playlouder joined the panel for the discussion.

The presentations ouched on the importance of the importance of copyright violation, the variation between countries in the legal framework relating to online piracy and of eradicating internet piracy through partnership between ISPs and right holders.

Please find copies of the presentations from speakers below.

ISPA would like to thank sponsors, speakers and delegates for making the Conference a success. We hope that all attendees found the Conference useful and interesting and look forward to welcoming you all again next year.

 

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