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Virgin and the net neutrality debate

Virgin and the net neutrality debate

Virgin and the net neutrality debate

Net Neutrality Logo Neil Berkett, the new CEO of Virgin Media, has been fanning the flames of the Net neutrality debate.  Interviewed by the Royal Television Society’s Television magazine he put it bluntly: “This net neutrality thing is a load of [censored]”. In the same interview he attacks net neutrality campaigners and says that Virgin are in the process of signing deals with unnamed content providers. This would prioritise the traffic from these sites to Virgin's customers and slow down traffic from those providers who don't pay. We should firstly give Neil some credit for adopting an open and honest approach in relation to this controversial issue. It's refreshing to see others following the path we've trodden, and still too many ISPs are choosing to hide the detail of how they manage traffic on their networks.  With that said, we do have to question whether this is the right approach and whether it's in the best interest of consumers. We made our position on net neutrality clear a few months ago, and little has changed since (the wholesale costs are a little different but that's about all). We manage traffic on our network with a view to providing the best possible value for money to our customers, and which ensures people get a fair share of the network they pay for. We've been praised by industry and consumer groups both for having clear usage and traffic management policies, and for offering customers the choice about the level of service they want. We think that it's right to have the debate about net neutrality and it's no bad thing to ask whether content providers should contribute to the costs incurred for carrying/prioritising their content. Ultimately however the choice must fall to the consumer, otherwise good (well bad too) non-subsidised content is simply going to get squeezed out. More so, the precident of restricting or blocking a specific content supplier simply because they won't pay us money is certainly not a route we wish to travel. This is one of the problems with fixed cost "unlimited like" broadband and a reason we've taken the decision not to market our products in that way. By offering different price points for different usage and experience requirements, our range of products can be tailored to meet individual needs. For the light user that isn't particularly interested in file sharing or P2P, who can choose Broadband Your Way Option 1 (1GB Usage, £9.99 per month), to the most demanding (Option 4 for 40GB at £29.99), we have options to suit. And for the customer that wants the best possible performance at all times, our popular BBYW Pro product starts at £19.99 for 10GB of data that's prioritised across our network regardless of protocol or source. More coverage of the story can be found on DigitalSpy and TorrentFreak. Dave Tomlinson PlusNet Product Team

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And now the Virgin PR guys seem to be doing a u-turn...http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/04/15/virgin_media_net_neutrality/
Grafter
I wonder if there will come a day where we end up half way between these two extremes. Say one bright day in the future, all ISPs make us pay for the data we choose to download (like we already do here at PlusNet). Might that mean that data/content providers might start to subsidise some data feeds (pay the ISP a fee), so that we get some data coming to us for free or at least cheaper. EG... a VOIP provider wants people to use the service, without being worried about data charges, so their data is passed through the ISP without it being charged to the end customer... instead the VOIP provider pays the bill to the ISP. OR Channel4 want us to watch their 4OD service, as they have adverts in the video feed. The more who watch the more revenue for advertising they can reap. Maybe these are daft examples, but you could see why some data costs a lot of money to shift, with no return income for the data/content provider (say personal websites!)... and other data streams pull in revenue from adverts... so the more it is watched the more money the content provider gets. In those case, the content provider might pay the ISP for the data transfer fees to encourage more take up of their service and therefore more profits. These payments would be passed on to the end user in free allowances for certain traffic feeds not counting towards the monthly totals. The obvious comparison would be like BBC compared with advert channels. We pay for BBC content through a TV licence, and we pay for most of our internet data. However some providers will cover their data fees with adverts & other revenue streams, to gain market share. What do you think? Could this ever happen?