UK.gov backs ISPs on charging content providers, throttling P2P
Carter kicks net neutrality corpse
Digital Britain The government today rejected any prospect of US-style "net neutrality" laws to prevent ISPs from charging online content providers for traffic prioritisation, or from restricting bandwidth-hungry protocols such as BitTorrent.
In his Digital Britain report, Lord Carter said givings ISPs the ability to charge for guaranteed service levels to content providers - such as asking the BBC to pay for delivering iPlayer traffic - could promote innovation and investment in networks.
"Net neutrality is sometimes cited by various parties in defence of internet freedom, innovation and consumer choice," the report says. "The debate over possible legislation in pursuit of this goal has been stronger in the US than in the UK.
"Ofcom has in the past acknowledged the claims in the debate but have [sic] also acknowledge that ISPs might in future wish to offer guaranteed service levels to content providers in exchange for increased fees.
"In turn this could lead to differentiation of offers and promote investment in higher speed access networks. Net neutrality legislation might prevent this sort of innovation."
In the US, Barack Obama is committed to introducing net neutrality laws, having said on the campaign trail: "I think [charging for guaranteed service] destroys one of the best things about the internet - which is that there is this incredible equality there."
The debate has been stoked across the Atlantic by cable giant Comcast's secret BitTorrent blocking, which it initially denied. The move led to it being hauled before a public hearing by the FCC, the US equivalent of Ofcom, and censured.
It's recently been reported that Obama will anoint prominent net neutrality advocate Julius Genachowski as FCC chair. Regulatory backup for anti-traffic-prioritisation legislation would be assured under Genachowski's leadership.
In the UK, net neutrality was stillborn as an issue, but Carter was happy today to give its corpse a kick. As well as advocating tiered content delivery, he backed "traffic management"; the somewhat euphemistic industry term for BitTorrent throttling.
"The government has yet to see a case for legislation in favour of net neutrality. In consequence, unless Ofcom find network operators or ISPs to have Significant Market Power and justify intervention on competition grounds, traffic management will not be prevented," the Digital Britain report says.
Google has lobbied determinedly for net neutrality in Europe, wishing to avoid paying ISPs for carrying its traffic. The BBC meanwhile is seemingly warming to Carter's vision of tiered service levels, as long as the consumer carries the burden. In a recent interview, BBC iPlayer chief Anthony Rose suggested an optional high quality iPlayer charge on top of broadband subscriptions.
"What we need to do is to create the iPlayer services at different quality levels and then let ISPs offer different bandwidth propositions to users," he said.
"For example, the user can get a good quality iPlayer service for, say, £10 a month but for £20, a much better iPlayer quality would be available."
It's too early to tell whether such packages will ever reach the market, let alone whether anyone would be interested - but it is clearer than ever that nobody in government would object. ®
exposing the connection
No-one can really be that stupid can they? the idea that carter isn't somehow getting a backhand from somewhere is too hard for me to countenance...
Someone needs to do some investigative journalism into his inbox...
@Anon Posters response to @utilities post
I think you're a bit special, and you may be answering a completly different post, my post was not about the speed of connection, it was about the use of connection, and had nothing to do with the download rate. Hell beyond my origonal "you pay blah for 8meg unlimited connection" but you did prove my point about dribbling idiots.
Now to reiterate my point,
The marketing people said unlimited use of the broadband connection (it doesn't matter the speed it could be 512kbps or it could be 24mbps) it really doesn't matter. If the "freetard" decides to stream all day long fair enough, they've been sold an "unlimited" connection.
Unlimited implies, the amount you can download is unlimited (barring limits set by the maximum you are capable of downloading) and that you can do it anyway you please.
People can complain all they like (low use users, isps, government) however the ISPs sold the package and they should have to provide the package (unlimited downloads for just blah) otherwise they need to revise their packages with what they really intend on providing and allow all their users to leave without any penalties.
I already pay a fair price for my connection, to a small company, where I am on first name terms with the very responsive, small and, capable team.
Anon Posters response to @utilities post
First of all you don't buy an 8mbps broadband service from your ISP - you buy "up to" what bit of between 128k - 8mbps do you and similar people like you not understand.
It's clear that if consumers read what they were buying they'd know this.
The only time you have any comeback on that is when the provider states specifically "WE GUARANTEE YOU WILL GET x, y or z!).
The fact of the matter Net Neutrality or not in this country is, to provide a decent service at a level that will allow you to download all you want, surf the web or watch online TV content at the speed and to a level of quality you so desperately need then it costs and those costs bear little resemblance to the £14.99 - £20 odd pounds that you and millions of others pay your ISP monthly for today.
If you want all this then quite simply "you" and the rest of us internet customers of ISP's are going to have to pay for it otherwise your left with a market and infrastructure that you see today - take it or leave it because what is a fact and irrespective of the Digital Britain Report is no one is committed to paying to provide it anytime soon and why should they?