The action group XS4ALL Moet Blijven started on Monday with a new provider. After months of trying to convince KPN not to stop using XS4ALL, Freedom Internet must be a worthy independent 'successor'. Freedom Internet presents itself as an alternative to existing providers in the field of privacy, security and innovation, but what does that mean in concrete terms?
While Freedom Internet still has to connect its first customer, the provider is already profiling itself by offering to offer social, economic and technical added value.
On Monday, Freedom Internet already announced its intention to focus on the so-called portability of e-mail addresses. Customers receive their own domain that they can use for their e-mail address, which means they are not tied to the provider. If they decide to switch to another, they can keep their e-mail address.
But the new internet provider makes more promises. How does Freedom Internet distinguish itself from other providers?
Freedom Internet wants to maintain XS4ALL activism
Freedom Internet was born out of dissatisfaction with KPN's decision to abolish the XS4ALL brand name. According to the founders of the new provider, XS4ALL has in the past demonstrated its commitment to open and free internet.
Freedom Internet wants to maintain XS4ALL activism and therefore "actively commits itself" on various points. With this promise, the provider is already differentiating itself from the competition, says Hans de Zwart of Bits of Freedom, a foundation that promotes digital civil rights. "Freedom Internet is the only provider that explicitly expresses this ambition."
But in practice it remains to be seen whether that promise is being delivered. "In any case, there is a way in which you as a provider can be activist: actively getting involved in the public debate," says De Zwart. He still has to wait and see what that will look like: " The proo f of the pudding is in the eating. "
Freedom Internet says ...
- ... to be in principle against the currently drafted intelligence law that entered into force on 1 May 2018 and regulates powers for GISS and MIVD. Freedom Internet does not agree with the massive interception and retention of data from everyone, regardless of whether users are suspected.
- ... to be against 'back doors' in encryption. Minister Ferd Grapperhaus said in early November that investigative services should be able to gain insight into, for example, WhatsApp calls.
- ... to make an annual donation to Bits of Freedom equal to the maximum that the foundation allows per company.
For the time being, technical promises do not necessarily offer added value
It remains to be seen how Freedom Internet will technically distinguish itself from the competition. The provider wants to bet on, among other things, the "most important part" of the company: customer service. According to the action group, XS4ALL also distinguished itself from competitors on this point.
Furthermore, it is known until now that Freedom Internet will deliver the FRITZ! Box as a modem "anyway. This brand was also used by XS4ALL. Although competing providers provide other modems, customers are not tied to the brand that, for example, KPN (Experia Box), VodafoneZiggo (Connectbox, Ubee) or T-Mobile (Huawei, Zyxel) use. Freedom Internet customers can connect an alternative modem, but must purchase it themselves.
In addition, one of the first technical promises from Freedom Internet is that it offers standard support for IPv6 addresses, in addition to the now widely used IPv4. These two internet protocols indicate exactly where a website or app is located on the internet.
Why is IPv6 required as a successor to IPv4?
- Every device that can be connected to must have an IP address. The IPv4 protocol was introduced in the 1980s.
- However, there are not infinitely many IPv4 addresses. Because more and more devices are connected to the internet, the IPv4 addresses are running out at a given moment.
- From that moment on, new websites or apps can only use IPv6, but if a modem does not support the protocol, you cannot visit that website or app. That is not immediately a problem, but can be annoying in the future.
'Nice that Freedom Internet is committed to IPv6'
With this promise, Freedom Internet distinguishes itself from the competition. The large providers do not yet offer their customers a fully-fledged IPv6, according to SIDN, which manages the .nl domain. "KPN and Ziggo in particular have been falsely telling their customers that they will soon start the large-scale rollout."
"It's great that Freedom Internet is committed to IPv6," says Elmer Lastdrager from SIDN. "XS4ALL has been doing it for a while. Freedom is now adopting that mentality. You can see that it is possible. I hope it gets a lot of followers," said Lastdrager.
However, the internet is currently far from unusable without IPv6. Most websites and apps 'just' have an IPv4 address and are sometimes (also) already accessible with IPv6. Moreover, companies can still get IPv4 addresses, for example by buying them from other companies.
The burden bearer expects that other providers will have to take steps as IPv6 becomes more common. But that certain websites without IPv6 cannot be reached by Dutch people is not yet an issue, he says.
How Freedom Internet's promises relate in practice to the competition will become clear later. From 2020 the first customers must be able to use internet, television and telephony through Freedom Internet.