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Without Net Neutrality UK ISPs Say It Would Be “Perfectly Normal Business Practice to Discriminate”

Phillip Dampier September 29, 2010 Net Neutrality, Public Policy & Gov't, TalkTalk (UK) No Comments


While Federal Communications Chairman Julius Genachowski continues his indecisive dawdling over whether to enforce Net Neutrality in the United States, the United Kingdom’s two largest Internet Service Providers have openly admitted without such protections they would openly discriminate against content providers’ traffic.  In fact, discriminating against providers based on who paid and who didn’t would be a perfectly normal business practice for any ISP, they declared.

Senior executives of both BT and TalkTalk let the truth spill from their lips at a Westminster eForum on Net Neutrality, something companies like Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T surely wish they hadn’t done.

The surprisingly open dialogue was covered in detail by PCPro, and sent on to us by our reader “PreventCAPS”:

Asked specifically if TalkTalk would afford more bandwidth to YouTube than the BBC’s iPlayer if Google was prepared to pay, the company’s executive director of strategy and regulation, Andrew Heaney, argued it would be “perfectly normal business practice to discriminate between them”.

“We would do a deal and look at YouTube and look at the BBC, and decide,” he added.

When asked the same question, BT’s director of group industry policy, Simon Milner, replied: “We absolutely could see a situation when content or app providers may want to pay BT for quality of service above best efforts,” although he added BT had never received such an approach.

TalkTalk’s Heaney declared Net Neutrality a mythical concept, saying they already discriminate against traffic now that they have their foot in the door with “traffic management” policies.

“It’s a myth we have Net Neutrality today – we don’t,” he said. “There are huge levels of discrimination over traffic type. We prioritize voice traffic over our network. We shape peer-to-peer traffic and de-prioritize it during the busy hour.”

If British ISP’s are willing to discriminate against non-paying traffic on its networks, are American ISP’s going to act any differently?

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