BBC pledges net neutrality fight

The BBC won’t play along with plans to abandon net neutrality in the UK, pledging to inform users of any downgrades to their services if a two-tier system is launched in 2011.
 
The broadcaster is developing software that will display red, amber or green alerts on data rates for consumers, and will resist attempts by ISPs to charge it more to carry streaming content offered by its iPlayer service, director of future media and technology Erik Huggers told an FT conference yesterday.
 
Huggers believes the corporation holds enough sway to influence ISPs without additional government protection, after communications minister Ed Vaizey backed Ofcom proposals to abandon net neutrality at the same event, FT.com reports.
 
Vaizey believes light Web regulation will boost business and the UK economy, claiming the “government is no fan of regulation,” ispreview.com reported.
 
However, Robert Hammond of consumer group Consumer Focus told the news site that the plan “will create a worldwide web where big bully-boy companies rule,” at the expense of smaller players and consumer choice.
 
Vaizey would look to avoid that situation by requiring ISPs to commit to providing open access to legal content and services, offering details of the impact of traffic management on consumers and by backing investment through flexible business models.
 
The Guardian was unconvinced by Vaizey’s pledge, though, noting that consumers are unlikely to shop around for better services even if ISPs cough up traffic management data or the BBC deploys the traffic light system.
 
Vaizey’s plan will bring the UK in-line with proposed European Union rules backing a two-tier Internet, the BBC notes, and the minister believes healthy competition in the region will ensure consumers aren’t discriminated against.

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