BT has been accused of leading the charge towards a two-tier Internet where certain content is prioritised with fast lanes via the introduction of a new service called Content Connect.
Content Connect is a BT Wholesale product which is designed to allow ISPs to deliver streaming video content more effectively across the net.
BT explains: “This is achieved by connecting a Content Distribution & Delivery platform to the IPstream Connect and Wholesale Broadband Connect networks. The Content Distribution & Delivery platform will be placed in the broadband network so that content bypasses the ISP’s backhaul.”
“Content Connect gives the opportunity for the ISPs to have a commercial relationship with the Content Service Providers.”
In other words, video content will be streamed from local servers direct to end users, allowing for much smoother streaming for those content providers who pay for it. BT is planning to use the service itself to deliver iPlayer content to BT Vision subscribers, according to the BBC.
Critics say that the concept is the beginning of the end for net neutrality, the principle that all traffic on the net should be treated equally.
Ever-present defender of Internet rights, Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group, told the BBC: “This is a sea change in the way that content is delivered by ISPs. It is essentially them saying: ‘Rather than delivering whatever content is on the internet as best we can, here are our services that we will deliver through our own network.’”
A BT spokesman also talked to the Beeb, and insisted the company was in favour of net neutrality: “BT supports the concept of net neutrality, but believes that service providers should also be free to strike commercial deals, should content owners want a higher quality or assured service delivery.”