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Everything Everywhere ponders discrimination by packet

Some packets are more equal than others

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Everything Everywhere has rather upset Which? by mooting the idea of tariffs based on services, rather than raw quantities of data.

The premise is that a tariff might come bundled with a limited amount of data, but as much YouTube as you like, or only count data used visiting web sites outside a prescribed list.

Such practices would be more controversial if operators weren't already using them, although operators are careful to word it as we have above.

Their presentation contrasts with how the "net neutrality" crowd sees it, as Which?'s expert demonstrates.

"Allowing ISPs to develop tariffs with restricted access to the web could open the door to discrimination and harm innovation," says the Which? net neutrality expert Rob Reid.

He demonstrated his ignorance of the existing tariffs by adding, "I oppose the possibility of tariffs being introduced which remove [net neutral] right[s] under the veneer of offering consumers choice".

Most of the UK operators already provide access to their own portals outside of the data allowance, often including video and audio content as well as paid-for applications and content which can be downloaded without additional charge. Three provides access to Facebook (via the 0.facebook.com service) outside users' data caps and without charge, which is exactly the kind of model being suggested by Everything Everywhere.

Such models are inevitable as mobile operators try to replace the declining voice revenue, and mobile operators are already distinguished from fixed-line providers in their mandatory blocking of pornography amongst other things.

Everything Everywhere's are part of a softening-up process, to get end users comfortable with the idea: no-one is suggesting that operators will cut off parts of the web from customers who are prepared to pay, only that access to some parts might be cheaper than others. ®

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