Virgin, currently Britain’s second largest broadband ISP has said that the company is considering increasing the delivery speeds of high volume content from certain providers, for a fee.
Virgin Media boss Neil Berkett, seems to have totally discounted the whole concept of being a neutral player. In addition, that Virgin believes that the days when ISP’s are obliged to ‘play fair’ and give every provider equal download speeds are coming to an end. He actually used very un-business like language and described the notion that Virgin should not favour one company over another as “a load of bollocks”.
Observers believe that this change of business practice by an ISP would countermand a long held principle of total “net neutrality,” They also believe that such a change could have very far reaching implications in many areas such as freedom of speech.
Such a system of preference of one piece of content over another could lead to some serious business and social implications. For example, what if the owners of an ISP were to choose to speed up content from one political party’s site, while slowing down another.
Virgin or any other ISP that wished to bring him such a plan would first have to obtain permission from industry watchdog Ofcom. Over in the US the discussion of the notion of network neutrality is well advanced with their communication watchdog the FCC have begun investigations into a series of complaints against major US, ISP Comcast.
The ISP is accused of ‘choking’ the speed up downloads for applications that use BitTorrent. In their defense, Comcast claims that they are not making preferences, but are actually just exercising what they call a level of ‘network management’.