Coming from the prophet of doom department (we have a lot of funky departments over-seen by our mighty overlord Mr. Parker here at Neowin :-) ) comes this rather negative article from PC Pro’s Barry Collins.
Collins is convinced that we are well on the road to a 2 tier Internet and the concept of net neutrality is doomed. He contends that its already happening in the UK, as the largest controller of wholesale infrastructure in the country, BT, offers products to ISPs which allow segregation of traffic.
The danger of course is that, as with all market changes, ISPs choose to pass the costs associated with this on to consumers, leading to a 2 tier internet. Which I doubt is what Mr Tim Berners Lee or the ARPANET scientists intended. Some would argue that net neutrality is already dead. After all people pay for different speeds, and some ISPs employ traffic shaping methods already.
Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, has this chilling warning for fixed-line broadband users: “Look at the mobile market, think if that is how you want your internet and your devices to work in the future, because that’s where things are leading.”
ISPs however contend that such action is necessary given the Internet today is a very different place from what its founding fathers envisaged. It is being utilised for a variety of different applications that weren’t conceived back then. Gaming, video, television, are all being converged online. If the net is to grow and deliver reasonable performance, they argue, it has to be managed in an effective manner, which segregates high bandwidth traffic and assigns such traffic to appropriate channels.
Another option ISPs are considering is getting content providers of high bandwidth applications such as the BBC’s iPlayer to pay them for the utilisation of their network. Content providers it would seem, are more than willing to pay to be put into the net’s fast lane and already some UK ISPs have been approached to try to cut such deals.