Tuesday, 4 January 2011

BT and net neutrality.

BT - claiming in one breath they're not doing something while saying they are in the next. Via the advertising medium of a newspaper quote. (Or possibly a press release - I haven't located the original source of the quote.)

First, a brief definition: "Net neutrality": not forcing customers (or the websites providing the data they want to look at) to pay extra for bandwidth.

For example: since the iPlayer uses up more bandwidth than, say, email, this provides a headache for ISPs since it uses up a lot of bandwidth. ISPs either provide that extra bandwidth, or manage the traffic such that other traffic gets priority over iPlayer traffic.

Net neutrality (loosely - it's a bit more complicated) is the concept that while ISPs may take reasonable measures to manage their traffic, they shouldn't try to profit from it by, say, charging  either the BBC on the one hand, or those using iPlayer on the other (or even both) to prioritise iPlayer traffic.

Critics claim that opponents to net neutrality want to create a 'two tier' internet, those who are willing/forced to pay for prioritised traffic, and those who refuse/cannot afford to.

BT have a new product "Content Connect" (warning - annoying auto-play video.) Essentially a service whereby the likes of the BBC and Google (i.e. YouTube) can pay BT some money to have their content delivered faster to the user, or you, the end user can pay for faster, 'guaranteed' content.

When called on this by the Open Rights Group:
"We are talking about ISPs competing with the Internet for content delivery. Whether films, music or gaming services, the idea is that ISPs will deliver content better and more reliably than the Internet. That says a lot about the state of investment in our Internet.

"The result could be a fundamental shift away from buying services from the Internet to bundled services from ISPs: which would reduce competition and take investment away from Internet companies. That would be bad for everyone."
Or the FT:
BT is starting to sell a new service that gives broadband providers the tools to create a two-tier internet, where some video content would reach consumers in a better condition than other material.

The service devised by BT’s wholesale unit gives broadband providers the opportunity to charge content owners for high quality distribution of their video products to consumers.

BT replied:
"Contrary to recent reports in the media, BT's Content Connect service will not create a two-tier internet, but will simply offer service providers the option of differentiating their broadband offering through enhanced content delivery,"

Content Connect will not create a two-tier internet, but will simply create a two-tier internet.

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