BT on the way to creating two-tier internet, say critics

4 January 2011

Bitterwallet - BT TowerWe recently reported that mobile service providers Everything Everywhere hadn't dismissed the idea of offering consumers a 'two tier' service, with customers having to pay more to receive particular types of content. It seems BT may be already heading in that direction.

According to the FT, BT is now looking to sell a service to broadband providers that allows them to determine the quality of streaming video available to customers. The Content Connect service is already used by BT to supply television customers with data-rich content such as BBC iPlayer.

The concern amongst critics is that this type of system goes against the principles of net neutrality, that allowing this sort of service to create a premium internet experience leads to a slippery slope of blocking swathes of online content. BT is dismissing the criticism, and instead suggests the system could be used by service providers to provide pay-per-view events, rather than upgrade (or degrade) streaming content.

The likes of the Open Rights Group aren't convinced, however. In a quote given to the FT, a spokesperson said: “BT’s plans have the potential to end up with a two-tier internet, with customers increasingly tied to bundled services [from broadband providers], and a reduction in competition across the open internet.”

[Financial Times]

TOPICS:   Technology

2 comments

  • The S.
    Are BT really proposing to limit on TYPES of content or QUALITY of content (the article cites both). Quality is clearly an issue of bandwidth - something we are familiar with paying higher for. Type on the other hand, is equivalent to charging based on the packets delivered. That I would disagree with as it doesn't affect the providers service what so ever. If they will insist on charging by data types - then a proliferation of tools that disguise your internet packets will be utilised by users. This way the ISP cannot see what you are doing. There is also a recent article from a non-confused source here: http://www.economist.com/node/17800141
  • Paul S.
    I thought it was pretty clear, anonymous commenter; the system that BT is looking to sell to service providers would allow them to determine the quality of content received by consumers. The concern is that the same system could be used to determine the type of content. I think you're confusing consumer experience with quality of content. Consumer experience is a bandwidth issue; quality of content isn't. Bandwidth doesn't prevent somebody attempting to access content of a particular quality, but it may affect the consumer experience. Net neutrality is about the right for everyone to have access to the free web. If systems like this are about allowing online consumers access to pay-per-view events, that's very different to, say, demanding consumers pay more for access to BBC iPlayer.

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