New Legislation Could Clear Way for Tiered Internet in the UK

The British government could pass new legislation allowing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the United Kingdom to regulate the flow of web data provided to consumers, businesses, and government, according to new comments made by the country’s Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey, who said today at a technology conference that he favors tiered Internet traffic in the country.

The UK could become the first major economy to implement such a plan, essentially going against keeping the Internet neutral for all users.

Proponents of net neutrality argue ensuring equitable access to the Internet for all users fosters freedom of speech, innovation, and free-access.

 Under the new plan in the United Kingdom, ISPs could effectively add tiered levels, favoring certain customers over others with faster download and upload speeds, thereby giving them preferred access to the Internet.

Under the bill, the ISPs must not block consumers from accessing legal content, but under the tiered system, opponents argue certain activities on the Internet such as downloading files from various file sharing networks such as BitTorrent could become cumbersome with capped download rates as the ISPs prioritize faster access rates for other uses.

Advocates favoring tiered Internet access argue service providers would become more transparent, and become more innovative by offering a wider array of service levels to consumers based on usage and market demand factors, that is, allowing the free market to dictate data prioritization.

The market place for Internet service is slowly changing as companies try to maximize profits.

In Canada, the largest cable ISP, Rogers Communications, traditionally offered unlimited data across all Internet plans, but recently decided to implement monthly data ceiling caps, making it more expensive for consumers to access content.

The next biggest ISP in Canada, Bell, subsequently followed Rogers Communication’s price hike to maximize profits, as some consumers argued the firms essentially colluded in the oligopolistic market to maximize profits.

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Tahir holds a Bachelor Commerce Finance degree from Ryerson University in Toronto. He is planning to purse an MBA in Finance. Write to [email protected]
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