January 4, 2011

BT moves towards two-tier Internet

by Jan Harris

BT Wholesale has announced the launch of a new service on its ‘Content Connect’ platform that will allow ISPs to charge for Internet content to be delivered via a ‘fast lane’.

The move has been criticised by the Open Rights Group for undermining the fundamental concept of net neutrality.

The new service, which will be launched in spring, will allow ISPs to earn revenue by charging for a higher quality service, but it is feared it will give ISPs too much power over the Internet.

There is concern that it could lead to a move away from buying services from Internet companies to buying bundled services from ISPs, in order to ensure that content is delivered quickly.

In a statement BT said: “Content Connect will not create a two-tier internet, but will simply offer service providers the option of differentiating their broadband offering through enhanced content delivery.”

In November, Minister for Communications and the Creative Industries Ed Vaizey expressed the government’s support for ISPs to charge for differing levels of quality of service.

However Mr Vaizey also said that ISPs must ensure that consumers still had access to all legal content and service, a view which is also supported by the European Commission.

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