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ISPs to spill net traffic management beans

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The UK's biggest ISPs are set to reveal exactly how, when and why they throttle internet connections in order to maintain network performance.

BSkyB, BT, O2, TalkTalk, Three, Virgin Media and Vodafone have all agreed to provide better information on traffic management, which should help customers understand why connection speeds vary.

While such information is already available in many cases, in order for consumers to have a better handle on the data, the indicators must be understandable, accessible, comparable and verifiable. The info will therefore be published in a 'Key Fact Indicator' table that summarises the practices in a standardised format. These will be available on the ISPs' websites by the end of June.

The tables can be accessed directly by the consumer, but also used by price comparison websites and the like to inform potential customers of the best options available to them.

Antony Walker, head of the Broadband Stakeholder Group, which facilitated the move, reckons it "will not only help to ensure consumers are better informed about the services they buy and use, but will also provide a clearer picture for policy makers of the way in which traffic management is actually used in the UK market”.

The scheme could pave the way for ISPs to offer managed services that prioritise certain traffic types, such as streamed video or gaming data.

This has met heavy criticism from net neutrality fans, who believe all internet traffic should be treated equally by ISPs.

The code of practice will be reviewed in 2012. ®

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