Tuesday, 11th January 2011
In April 2010 I was reporting, on LiveWire, some of the issues around net neutrality with the US provider Comcast and file sharing service BitTorrent. Net neutrality is a great idea - all web traffic being treated equally, but is it achievable? This is an issue that is just not going to go away in my opinion. Leading national governments are pushing for fully engaged digital economies with high speed broadband for all and all web traffic being treated equally.
It is a nice idea, but market economics will surely always play a part. Internet service providers (ISPs) can block or slow specific sites or charge sites to deliver content faster. This could lead to 'two-tier model' - a major blow to government plans that all web traffic should be treated equally and fairly.
Last year the news was centred on the US, but more recently a major UK ISP, and all round telecommunications giant, BT has been in the news. BT has received much criticism, especially from the Open Rights Group, speculating that they are indeed paving the way for a two-tier Internet. The service from BT is called Content Connect and it is a way of capitalising on the fast growing video streaming market. Essentially some consumers would get their video content in much better condition than others.
This development of these types of service may create a shift in how we buy services. No longer can we only buy from the Internet but there is now a possibility that ISPs can bundle services too. There is a feeling that competition may in fact be reduced for the consumer.
I wonder too that if investment moves to the ISPs, and is taken away from Internet companies, then who will drive the creativity for new products, tools and content? Not sure ISPs will fill this role.
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