Vodafone UK, EE and Virgin Mobile commit to net neutrality

EE, Virgin Media and Vodafone UK have become the last Internet service providers in the UK to sign up for a voluntary code of practice that supports the fundamental concepts of the Open Internet, also known as net neutrality.

According to the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG), the three companies join existing signatories BT, BSkyB, KCOM, giffgaff, O2 UK, Plusnet, TalkTalk, Tesco Mobile and Three UK. This means that all major ISPs, operating across both fixed and mobile networks, are now signatories.

By signing up to the Open Internet Code, which was launched in 2012 by the BSG on behalf of the UK government, ISPs make a commitment to provide full and open Internet access products and confirm that traffic management practices will not be used to target and degrade the services of a competitor.

"Unlike some countries where net neutrality has become a controversial topic for discussion, the UK benefits from a fiercely competitive market and high levels of transparency--which together offer the best assurance of an Open Internet," said Matthew Evans, CEO of the BSG.

To say that net neutrality "has become a controversial topic" is certainly something of an understatement: for example, the issue is again being hotly discussed in the U.S., where the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is putting the final touches on its new net neutrality rules that it plans to issue in February.

Evans of the BSG said the UK's voluntary code of practice "allows for an environment where new business models for internet-based services which benefit consumer choice can thrive."

By agreeing to the code, ISPs in the UK confirm that they will: ensure that full and open internet access products, with no blocked services, will be the norm within their portfolio of products; provide greater transparency in instances where certain classes of legal content, applications and/or services are unavailable on a product. These products will not be marketed as "internet access" and signatories will be obliged to ensure that any restrictions are clearly communicated to consumers; not target and degrade the content or applications of specific providers.

The Open Internet Code is based on the three guiding principles outlined by UK MP Ed Vaizey in 2011: Users should be able to access all legal content; there should be no discrimination against content providers on the basis of commercial rivalry; and traffic management policies should be clear and transparent.

For more:
- see this BSG release

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