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November 17, 2010

Ed Vaizey turns his back on net neutrality

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by Darren Allan

Net neutrality, who needs it? That’s the view of government Minister Ed Vaizey, who is fine with the idea of a two-tier Internet.

Net neutrality is simply the principle of fair and equal treatment for all Internet traffic, and is against the idea that providers could create net fast lanes for those websites willing to pay for the privilege of faster speeds.

But Mr Vaizey thinks a system along these lines may be necessary to raise funds to keep the quality of service we currently have, given the huge expansion of mobile networks in particular, according to a BBC report.

The BBC quoted Vaizey as saying: “We have got to continue to encourage the market to innovate and experiment with different business models and ways of providing consumers with what they want.”

“This could include the evolution of a two-sided market where consumers and content providers could choose to pay for differing levels of quality of service.”

He also noted that ISPs already carry out traffic management measures, although making sure heavy downloaders aren’t file-sharing the hell out of their pipes at peak times is a bit different to the core principles of net neutrality.

The Beeb itself has spoken out in favour of net neutrality in the past, and the head of the Open Rights Group, Jim Killock, said that abandoning the principle would be detrimental to innovation on the web, and would compromise free speech.

Ed Vaizey was in the news earlier this month, with his also not very popular suggestion that Internet Service Providers should be given powers to mediate content on the net. Given his way, ISPs are going to be holding lots of cards…

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