Net Neutrality – the good and the bad

November 18, 2010

The first question…

What is Net Neutrality?

Put simply, it’s the ability for any device to connect to another without any restrictions. So if I connect from my computer to a large commercial website or a small boutique website I should get the same level of access.

But that’s about to change.

The Bad

Mr Ed Vaizey (Minister for Communication, Culture and the Creative Industries) admitted it could lead to “a two-sided market where consumers and content providers could choose to pay for differing levels of quality of service.”

In my opinion this is wrong because it will crush the small entrepreneur as they won’t be able to compete with large scale business. Just like the supermarket situation we have now, choice will be eroded away giving cheaper, less quality goods. Granted we will still have the choice but like modern retail we are going to have to search deeper for it.

And what about the home user? Will they have a choice in this? Will they be offered Premium and Standard options where only Premium users get priority access to specific sites?

After all we are not getting the internet for free; we already pay our monthly subscriptions.

The freedom to connect any individual to any other individual or service via any application is what the internet was built on and if we start to tinker with that principal we risk destroying the very essence of internet.

The Good

Now I do not want any tiered system based on financial constraints because once again those that can pay get priority and in the ethos of freedom, that’s not fair.  You may have the money to buy a more expensive TV than me but it's only fair that you queue up.

However, where a tiered system would work is with applications that are time sensitive. Let’s split the less time sensitive data and queue that and ensure that real time activities, such as media streaming, do work. After all, I don’t want Billy No-Mates impacting on my enjoyment of iPlayer.

There’s already a lot of this type of activity going on behind the scenes as ISPs need to manage their network effectively but we should not foot the bill for poor capacity planning. That cost should be built into the pricing model when we signed up!

The ISPs already have access to vast amounts saleable material in the form of demographic data. They know who we are, where we are and what we do. This is valuable information which organisations pay for. If they me to pay more for a premium service I should reserve the right for them not to collate and sell data such data.


We need to ensure the ISPs or the Government do not start fiddling with of the internet because the only people who will win are the big business. They’ve destroyed the high street but let’s not them the rip the heart from the internet. I don’t want everything for free but I do want the freedom to search for what I want…not what a big business has paid for.

As Tim Berners-Lee again argued, it's drawing a line between traffic management, which he admits is necessary, and "commercial discrimination".