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Thursday, 18 November 2010

Set the controls to neutral

The government says it is minded to allow ISPs abandon net neutrality, but will it work,and should it be fought?
This blog post can be read at

Yesterday, in a speech the Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said in effect that he favoured the end of the principle of `Net Neutrality' where all content providers were given equal treatment in the speed of delivery, to the final user, of that content by ISPs. He said:-

We have got to continue to encourage the market to innovate and experiment with different business models and ways of providing consumers with what they want. This could include the evolution of a two sided market where consumers and content providers could choose to pay for differing levels of quality of service.

This has not gone down particularly well with many in the Internet Community, although as Mr Vaizey pointed out, there is a degree of content delivery management going on at the moment anyway, known as throttling.

There is a fundamental question, which it is right to ask, about whether it is right that there should be some management of high demand sites, so that the rest of us can get on and get important stuff done whilst the world and his significant other are downloading `Top Gear' in HD from the BBC i-player.

What a lot of people are highly suspicious of is the fact that ISPs might choose to charge certain content providers extra to get their content out there faster. To many that goes against the entire principle of the Internet.

I personally believe that if I pay a monthly fee for access to the internet, then all of the content that I wish to access should be accessible at the same speed. I find it deeply irritating that the X Factor could pay extra to get Simon Cowell streamed in HD in priority to something I actually want to look at.... live streaming of paint drying comes to mind as the alternative.

I got a brief customer survey from my ISP, Virgin, today, following a small change I made last week to my billing arrangements. At the bottom of the comments box I wrote the following

`If you abandon Net Neutrality as an ISP, I will abandon you for another..'

If enough people say this to their ISPs they might get quite nervous about breaking away from a neutral net, the market may work in the end and Net Neutrality could become a selling point for some ISPs

Also it will be interesting to see how this all affects communities who, like Great Asby, or Ashby de la Launde who have set up their own high speed networks. Will they have a two tier delivery system imposed from above by whoever is providing their `fat pipe' or will they be able to insist on `Net Neutrality' in their supply contract?

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