The topic of net neutrality has been hot in the press in recent years and more so in the past few; not only have there been legislations put in place to block illegal websites, such as pirate bay. But, last week saw the release of a new voluntary Open Internet Code of Practice (OICP); its presence is designed to tackle the concerns surrounding net neutrality. Members are to ensure that the internet is ‘full and open’. The code, however, has received a mixed response from UK ISP’s.
As well as the code requesting ISP’s to be more transparent with any restrictions, it also outlines commitments to stop the ISP’s from blocking any legal content or targeting any content from a specific provider. Consumers should be the beneficiary of this new code as the internet will hopefully remain more open. Although the code is voluntary multiple ISP’s, including BT, O2, TalkTalk and Sky (to name a few), have signed the code. However Virgin and Vodafone have yet to do so, with Virgin claiming the code is ‘too vague’ and Vodafone citing ‘impracticality’.
With more providers delivering content as well as connectivity there is a fear that services such as video, which is a high user of bandwidth, would be prioritised in different ways. This would mean a video service from one provider would look worse on a competing network than on its own. This obviously comes back to the issue of walled gardens and protecting the quality of a service, but with something as universal as internet connectivity any kind of restriction or interference needs to be disclosed prior to purchase.
There is no issue in ISPs putting these restrictions in place, as others will offer the alternative of not having them in place, but without full upfront disclosure customers will be unable to make an informed decision. Fluidata does no kind of traffic shaping or restriction for any of our customers, so luckily it’s not something we have to give too much thought to ourselves.