BT denies ‘two tiers’

BT’s New Year introduction of Content Connect has come under immediate fire from Internet groups who claim it implements a two tier service which is anti- net neutrality. The new service allows Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that use BT’s network to charge content firms for high-speed delivery of video.

“This is a sea change in the way that content is delivered by ISPs,” Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group, told BBC News.  He said the result could be a “fundamental shift” from consumers choosing what video and gaming services they buy on the Internet to “buying services from the Internet to bundled services from ISPs”.

BT denied that the offering would create a two-tier internet.”BT supports the concept of net neutrality, but believes that service providers should also be free to strike commercial deals, should content owners want a higher quality or assured service delivery.” It said that its new service would speed up download speeds across its network – even for those not buying into Content Connect – by easing congestion.

In the US the FCC made rules that are designed to uphold the principles of network neutrality, but do allow traffic management as long as it is transparent. Similarly the EU has backed network neutrality, but has also introduced regulation that allows network providers to manage traffic on their networks, provided what they are doing is transparent.

In the UK regulator Ofcom is expected to clarify its stance later this year but Culture minister Ed Vaizey said in November that ISPs had to be free to experiment with new charges to help pay for the expansion in internet services.

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