Some of the biggest ISPs in the country, including BT, Sky, Virgin and TalkTalk, are to adopt a voluntary code of practice whereby specific details on traffic management policies will be made available to users.
The code, conceived by the Broadband Stakeholder Group, will mean customers will no longer have to guess whether the lag on their weekend session of Call of Duty was caused by throttling. Or that’s the basic theory.
Every broadband package will come with details of its traffic management policies, and how that might affect different types of broadband usage, such as that of gamers, movie watchers, or your average surf-and-email user.
The majority of Internet Service Providers use some form of traffic management, especially at peak times, otherwise they run the risk of heavy file-sharing activity in particular bogging down speeds for those trying to stream films and the like.
Think Broadband.com reports that under the scheme, ISPs must use simple language, so consumers can easily understand the throttling on a particular package, and compare it to others. The information must always be kept current, and be verifiable by an independent party.
On the face of it this is a very positive move for consumers, although there are still some notes of dissent. Some net neutrality activists feel there is potential here for the creation of a two-tier service, with higher priced packages brought in with no throttling, so those who are willing to pay more can experience broadband without any interference.
Even so, we find it difficult to think of greater transparency as being a bad thing. We’d certainly like to know exactly how much our connection is throttled back, and when, in comparison to other ISPs.
The verifiable component of the facts and figures will be crucial, of course, to ensure that the traffic management details are indeed kept current and correct.
Mobile operators have also signed up to the code, with O2, Vodafone and 3 putting their traffic management where their mouth is.