We have to say, we were a little concerned last week when UK government Communications Minister Ed Vaizey gave a speech that seemed to put the idea of net neutrality at risk.
This could have led to ISPs prioritising their partners’ traffic over that of rivals. Imagine Rupert Murdoch’s Sky ISP blocking out the BBC iPlayer and BBC News websites in favour of his own alternatives, for example.
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It turns out that may have been a big misunderstanding though. Vaizey has since been busy insisting that he was misinterpreted.
Vaizey’s speech appeared to open the door to “The evolution of a two-sided market where consumers and content providers could choose to pay for differing levels of quality of service.” However, speaking to the Daily Telegraph on Friday, Vaizey said “My first and overriding priority is an open internet where consumers have access to all legal content”. Today he reiterated that argument to The Guardian.
Picking through Vaizey’s words, he appears to be open to the idea of priority access for websites who pay ISPs for the priviledge, but he’s not happy with the idea of blocking out competitors’ services altogether. That still sounds like a non-neutral Internet to us. Imagine if YouTube was slowed to an almost unusable crawl, while a rival service was allowed to offer super-fast connections to users.
There’s clearly still some fog over the future of a fully open, neutral Internet in the UK. While the debate has until now been relatively muted compared to the US, Vaizey may well have pulled it wide open.