Net neutrality may end in the UK: Universities will suffer

Net neutrality may end in the UK: Universities will suffer

Summary: Ed Vaizey, the communications minister for UK government favours a 'two tier' system which would essentially be the death of net neutrality in Great Britain. Is net neutrality a good thing or a bad thing?

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Ed Vaizey, the communications minister for UK government favours a 'two tier' system which would essentially be the death of net neutrality in Great Britain. In a nutshell, this will allow big bandwidth users including public and third sector organisations pay far greater bills for what they use, but giving them greater priority over non-subscribing ordinary web users' traffic.

It's been a great week to bury bad news. The United Kingdom is still running on a nationwide high after the announcement of the Royal wedding; something seen as a light at the end of the tunnel full of economic doom and gloom.

Though it is only in consideration in the United States as in the United Kingdom, it could set a dangerous precident for equality among all Internet users, from small start-up's and major public sector organisations, to the end user at home.

To really simplify this particular case as there are many different and varying angles to take into account, some argue that for the Internet to become more stable and progress to 'Internet 2.0' infrastructure-wise, the thought is that those organisations which use more bandwidth can pay more to prioritise their traffic over everyone elses. This will pay for better broadband services to the consumer without the need to hike the tax bill, like the 50p a month broadband tax.

However, this could be forced upon organisations in form of government policy and law without an opt-in system. On the whole, the system may work and may not, and there's no particular way to work out if it will until it either does or doesn't.

Regardless of either argument, if policy does dictate this to become a law or the government forces ISP's to prioritise high bandwidth traffic over consumer usage thus causing bills to raise, universities could pay a steep price when they already face massive budget cuts and economic deficits.

It doesn't seem as though policy will dictate a compulsorary service, though ISP's may be free to prioritise traffic if they so wish. This could still be a major funding issue for non-private enterprise.

The BBC as a good example of being a major public sector organisation though entirely independent of government would be hit with massive bills for the iPlayer on-demand television and radio service. Considering the licence fee goes towards not only services and other broadcasting and online services the BBC provides, the licence fee would have to somehow subsidise the bandwidth charges - even though the fee has been frozen until 2016.

Universities often have huge pipelines, sometimes multiple high-speed broadband and fibre lines into their respective locations to allow the tens of thousands of students and staff to use the web from their halls of residence, the library or on the computer labs around the capus.

However to further the concern, the top EU policy maker, Neelie Kroes, who controls the digital agenda for all European member states will not allow laws to be introduced to prevent the death of network neutrality. Instead, the EU will adopt guidelines to prevent anti-competitive behaviour and to protect industries from the aggression of others.

Is net neutrality a good thing or a bad thing, and why?

Topics: EU, Broadband, Government, Legal

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16 comments
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  • Govt has no business

    Dictating how traffic is dispearsed on the Internet, how much we pay, or how ISPs can do their QoS (or prioritze traffic). Let us figure that out. You want more bandwidth you should have to pay more. When govt. gets their grubby hands on something like this there will be widespread confusion, higher costs, and dysfunction.
    pizzaman7
  • Telecomunications is a natural monopoly

    Which means that it's already the government's business to counteract the market's desire to overcharge.
    brendan@...
    • How is telecommunications a "natural" monopoly?

      Many of those ISP and telecommunications monopolies were enabled through government legislation.

      The only thing that government should be responsible for is getting out of the way of the free-market system and to just monitor for monopolistic practices. If government involvement is needed, it should just be to encourage competition at regional and local and even national levels.

      The prices for services should be a business decision, and the public and businesses will then determine who fails and who triumphs. As for myself, if a price from an ISP becomes unbearable, I'll just cut my internet use to what's necessary, and I wouldn't be downloading a lot of movies and I wouldn't be watching a lot of YouTube videos. Chances are that, with reduced traffic, the ISPs and telecommunications providers will take notice and will respond to the demands of the consumers and businesses. Meanwhile, government just makes matters worse.

      Also, it might be about time to change the term "net neutrality". The way it's being used in this thread, it's not about "neutral" content. All sorts of content are already being allowed, and even with "prioritized" content, all types of content will be allowed.

      Perhaps the term should be "traffic prioritization".
      adornoe
      • Teabag philosophy = blind corporate faith

        More neocon rightard blathering as usual...
        ahh so
      • RE: Net neutrality may end in the UK: Universities will suffer

        @ahh so@...

        You automatically lose your argument when you immediately resort to perjoratives, "ahh so."
        SAStarling
      • SAStarling: you're right on one of your 2 points...

        You're correct on stating that he loses the argument when all he's got is insults and thoughtless attacks.

        But, you're wrong about him losing the argument because, he didn't have any opposing argument. Chances are that, he couldn't argue intelligently against anything I posted, so he could only resort to insults.
        adornoe
      • Who cares

        @adornoe@... You're still a blithering rightard teabagger.
        ahh so
      • ahh so: There's nobody more idiotic than one who can't even recognize

        how idiotic he sounds.

        You're still only lobbing insults and you're still not making any good argument as to why my points or point of view are wrong.


        Apparently, you're not smart enough to argue on the points or on the facts. You're just good at being cowardly and idiotic.

        BTW, no one can ever win an argument or discussion by just hurling insults. I'll bet you won't even be able to figure out why that is.
        adornoe
      • Look at who the ISPs were during dial-up days..

        @adornoe@...

        ...and who they are now, and you will see why telecommunications is a "natural monopoly". When everyone was on dial-up, all an ISP needed was a phone number and a connection to the backbone. Thus, there was a LOT of competition, and your argument would be right on the money (and it was - with all that competition, there was really no regulation of how these ISPs dealt with their own customers).

        To support broadband internet, you need to connect consumers closer to the internet backbone. Similar to the Rail system and the Mail system, the infrastructure required to support something as huge as an end-to-end internet backbone is incredibly expensive. Even with today's level of "competition", the backbone of the internet is controlled by very few large entities.

        It would be unrealistic and inefficient to have every ISP in the country lay their own fibre, which is what would have to happen to create enough real competition for a completely unregulated internet to be a possibility.
        daftkey
      • daftkey: those were different times and different circumstances...

        and one cannot compare the simplicity of the dial-up ISP days to the humongous traffic and content and complexity of modern day. Dial-up cannot, by any means, compare to the speed of the current delivery systems we have today. The amount of content and the amount of traffic and the much faster speeds for broadband, have meant many changes along the way, and the small and local ISPs proved that they couldn't compete, and so, many of them disappeared and we're left with the biggies that provide our content and delivery systems.

        However, that doesn't mean that we can't have competition. The same way we had sharing of the phone lines by ISPs, we could have sharing of the delivery lines (cable, fios, wi-fi, satellite), and all that would be needed is the sub-contracting by local providers. Those local providers could also compete by offering different tiers of service, whereby, a cable TV provider could offer a service that includes just the basic over-the-air networks, and other levels of service could include a-la-carte TV service where people pay only for the TV channels they have an interest in; not everybody wants the Disney Channel or the Cartoon Network, or MTV, yet, we're paying for them with most cable TV plans whether we want them or not. Likewise, an ISP could provide for different speeds in broadband and in maximum traffic that can be downloaded or uploaded. In that sense, competition would exist at the local level and the owners of the lines, such as Verizon/Comcast/BrightHouse, would only be responsible for service and support and billing for the local ISPs.

        Of course, anytime lines are shared, more regulations come into existence (and I hate government regulations), but, at least we'd have more competition.
        adornoe
      • So in other words, you agree with me..

        @adornoe@...

        So, you basically just re-iterated the exact same premises as I did, with a slightly different conclusion.

        1) The dial-up internet days are over - we live in a different world now, internet-wise, and the low barriers-to-entry that ISPs in the early years enjoyed are now replaced by HUGE barriers-to-entry.

        2) There is plenty of room for other players in the ISP game, but those players would have to live within the infrastructure that exists in today's broadband internet world. Namely, they would have to build their offerings on top of the internet backbone that's currently controlled by a few entities in the market.

        3) We could have competition, but that would mean that the entities controlling the internet backbone would have to share that backbone with the rest of the world.

        Somehow, your conclusion from this is that we need to have as little regulation as possible, and competition will "just happen". I don't know, this equation concerns me:

        1) High Barrier to Entry
        2) Low Government Regulation
        3) High Customer Switching Costs
        ----------------------------------------------
        = Advantage -> Existing ISPs
        = Disadvantage -> Competing ISPs, Customers

        Sounds like something in that equation has to give. I don't see the cost of laying fibre dropping any time soon, so dealing with "High Barriers to Entry" is going to be tough.

        How do we deal with "High Swithing Costs" and "Low Government Regulations"?
        daftkey
      • daftky: I agree with you, but you're still misunderstanding some things...

        I'm in favor of competition. But, I don't favor government intervention.

        If a company can build its own infrastructure, or a group of partners can build their own infrastructure, then, by all means, bring it on; the people would be highly appreciative.

        However, if a competitor is going to use currently existing lines or infrastructure, then the owners of that infrastructure SHOULD expect to be compensated for allowing their use of their equipment and lines.

        Competition is good, in all directions. I don't like monopolies, whether enabled by government, or through unfair competition, or from the absence of competition. If a market opens up where none existed before, then, all attempts should be made to set up competition, but with the least amount of government involvement possible. Government can enable, but government should not determine how a business will be run. Government should not be in the business of funding competition with infusions of money, either initially or post-startup.

        My main points about the old dial-up ISPs is that, those were different types and different needs. Today's internet has a need for a lot faster bandwidth, and a lot more content delivery. However, local ISPs can still exist and they can pay to share the current lines and infrastructures. But, setting up an ISP should not come at the expense of the currently existing ISP whose lines would be shared by the new local ISP.
        adornoe
      • And you're making poor assumptions..

        @adornoe@...

        I didn't say anything about companies being compensated for sharing their lines on the internet. Of course they should be compensated - that's a given.

        What's not a given is that the offer of compensation is going to be enough to convince the owners of the network infrastructure that makes up the backbone of the internet to share their bandwidth.

        The assumption you are making is that simply allowing line sharing in a regulation-free environment is going to be enough to foster any real competition. So far, that reality hasn't actually panned out in areas where this environment exists today (parts of Canada have largely unregulated, shared-line broadband internet - guess what, the "independent" ISPs have to pretty much bow down to the whims of the phone/cable companies whose lines they are using).

        From the sound of your argument, you don't seem to understand the concept of a "natural" monopoly. Natural monopolies exist in markets like this one. They are not government created, and they are not caused by unfair competition. They exist because the cost of entering a market as a meaningful enough player to actually say "there is competition" is astronomical.

        Where natural monopolies exist, real competition simply can't. In these cases, we either live with a single supplier, or we ask the government to regulate said supplier. Telling that supplier to share fairly with prospective competitors is still government regulation, it's just kept far enough away from us consumers that we don't have to think about it.
        daftkey
  • *sigh*

    LEAVE <S>BRITTANY</S> THE INTERNETZ ALONE!
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: Net neutrality may end in the UK: Universities will suffer

      @Cylon Centurion 0005 Haha - this made me laugh.
      zwhittaker
  • As usual, follow the money trail behind the politician.

    As usual, follow the money trail behind the politician.
    A two tier system means:
    (1) More revenue for the ISP's.
    (2) Long term chronic neglect of the low bandwidth tier, forcing them into high bandwidth tier. This was the original policy in the transition from dialup to broadband.
    Steve__Jobs