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Net Neutrality and The United Kingdom

Slashdot today quoted Small fries as saying that the Net Neutrality Debate crosses the Atlantic.

Analysts believe that ISPs will be forced to place stringent caps on consumers’ internet use and raise prices to curb usage. Attempts have been made by players in the industry to form a united front against the BBC by asking the Internet Service Providers’ Association to lead the campaign on the iPlayer issue.

There is a golden age for video sharing online. With services like operator 11, I can’t help but look forward to future versions as bandwidth increases. The idea that an ISP would think of “stringent caps on consumers’ internet use…” appears counterproductive. Apple has recently sold over 3 billion songs on iTunes, now imagine how many films they could sell if only they provided movies to Europe and the rest of the world. Tell those people they need to pay extra for the bandwidth and see how they respond.

Add to this the recent article about a grandmother in Sweden getting 40Gbs per second to her home, taking into account that countries such as Japan have 100+ Mb/s and the recent increase of bandwidth in Switzerland and you may conclude that there is no need to increase the cost of bandwidth or throttle packets from programs such as the iplayer because other countries are doing the opposite.

With the “BBC … being asked to cough up to pay for bandwidth charges, otherwise, traffic shaping will be used to limit access to the iPlayer” is surprising because of its role as a public service broadcaster and because of the user license fee paid by all television owners in the UK. This content is already available to the British public and they have paid for it. Various ISP thinking of getting more money out of new developments goes against the purpose of the World Wide Web and current social trends which require increased bandwidth.

A decade ago the web was static pages of text with the occasional image whereas now it’s video and radio on demand where the user creates their experience according to their feelings. As people spend more time online so their need for interesting activities increases hence photo sharing and increasingly video sharing websites. These websites need bandwidth and a lot of it. As I write this article I’m listening to a stream coming from Last night I was watching three simultaneous streams from Operator 11 and found that I could stream from two laptops at once to this website. I was using a lot of bandwidth and it worked flawlessly.

By giving the user the freedom they desire for how they use the internet and a variety of websites so you allow new phenomena to occur. With restrictions on photo-sharing Flickr would never have been and it’s the same with Youtube. Restrictions stifle creativity and markets that should have been stagnant rather than improving. As a result, I am for net neutrality because of how many great things are currently accessible online. I also believe that those analysts should experiment with the medium and see what doors are open as a result of new trends and see whether they can subsidise these startups.

Om Malik:

Their arguments sound hollow, on one hand they urge subscribers to sign-up for faster download plans, and pay premium prices. And yet, they complain when subscribers finally find an application that puts their web speed to work.

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