UK ISP's PlusNet and Tiscali have today offered further comment on the issue of Internet Neutrality, which references the debate over access to online content.
Many providers have imposed restrictions on specific services, such as P2P (File Sharing), while others argue that an ISP should not block or limit a customers access to content:
"It could be time for a new pricing model," said Simon Gunter, head of strategy at UK ISP Tiscali. He added: "We have to handle much more video and the question is - how do we square the costs of distributing lots of content?
We could look to minimise the costs of distribution and in that the content originators may need to contribute."
Tiscali has been concerned with the BBC's free iPlayer (IPTV) service for awhile, which is based off P2P technology and could theoretically hammer the provider’s network if its user-base grows. Meanwhile PlusNet comments as follows:
"Net neutrality is an issue no ISP can escape. We're convinced that demand for bandwidth driven by innovative applications will always outstrip the physical and economic supply of network," he said.
"For that reason, net neutrality is a pipe-dream. We believe it is vital to put the customer in control of what takes priority on their line and we're already developing that capability".
We’re not against an ISP opting to restrict traffic to certain services so long as customers are given a choice and clearly informed about precisely which information is restricted and to what degree before they signup.
Many providers merely write vague fair usage policies (FUP’s) and fail to clarify such points, causing frustration among customers when related services appear to perform poorly.
PlusNet deserves some credit here as it does communicate said restrictions reasonably well.
Sadly this issue is likely to become more prominent during 2008 with BT’s introduction of ‘up to’ 24Mbps technology placing further strain on ISP networks.
However the problem isn’t entirely unavoidable and providers that charge realistic pricing levels for their service may be better placed to avoid the pitfalls.
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