Monday, 9 February 2009

Net neutrailty doomed in the UK?

I've just been ploughing through the UK's Digital Britain report and I was shocked to read the following from page 22:
The Government has yet to see a case for legislation in favour of net neutrality. In consequence, unless Ofcom find network operators or ISPs to have Significant Market Power and justify intervention on competition grounds, traffic management will not be prevented.
This is a pretty big indicator for the future from Stephen Carter who has a bit of a reputation as being pro-market. It seems to me like he is edging towards a pro-market position when it comes to the delivery and regulation of Internet bandwidth. By suggesting that it is in the best interest of the ISPs to traffic shape data, offering preferable rates to those organisations or customers who can afford to pay more for a guaranteed service, seems to fly in the face of the reports other grand claim in the report: to provide universal connectivity for all.

It seems like a contradiction in terms. Ditch net neutrality in favour of supporting big business and the market place, let the end user (ie us!) make do with a two-tiered, slower service. How does this sit with a universal service for all?  After all, the report only seeks to guarantee a connection speed of 2 Mbps  by 2012.  The current UK average is 3.6 Mbps according to Ofcom.


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