30/10/2015

Net neutrality vote in the European Parliament. What does it really mean?

Net neutrality abolished. Fast lane or slow lane and what the fuss is all about


The news about the abolition of net neutrality by the European Parliament earlier this week has gone almost unnoticed and has hardly been reported in the British media. Since the inception of the internet the concept of net neutrality meant that all data is equal in the eyes of the internet service providers (ISPs), which means that all content has to be streamed to our computers and mobile devices in equal speed and quality. It seems however from now own some data will be more equal than other, with priory of delivery given to the highest bidders. This could means that for the first time, ISPs will be able to decide what Apps or content will be made easily accessible to us,at the expense of other data.

So what exactly net neutrality is?

Net neutrality is the principle that Internet Service Providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites. Currently, in most EU countries, mobile telephone and website operators can prioritise the delivery of certain data to their customers. The recent vote in the European Parliament is likely to make this practice more widespread, effectively creating so called Internet “fast lanes” and “slow lanes".


Fast lane slow lane

For example, Twitter might reach an agreement with O2 to allow mobile telephone users free access to Twitter, outside of their data allowance, in return for payment or more likely a share of the advertising revenue. This could prejudice, for example, Facebook or smaller social media providers, as their users’ access to their content will cost them money or not form part of their data allowance.  Another pertinent example may be telecommunication companies who might prioritise delivery of Netflix content, whilst at the same time slowing down delivery of content from its biggest rival, Amazon Prime. Users of Amazon Prime will find themselves at a distinct disadvantage which will be seen in the form of slower streaming of videos.

Telecommunication companies will often argue that specialised services running over fast lanes are needed in order to encourage innovation in the EU. However, freedom of speech campaigners will assert that telecommunication companies should not be able to decide what content internet users can see, or be able to reduce the viewing quality of certain content. One of their principal concerns is that telecommunication companies will be able to sensor information by slowing down access to it, or even by making it completely undeliverable.

Net neutrality fast lane and slow lane

Net Neutrality has always been a fallacy 

Prioritising fast delivery of online content in favour of the higher bidder is a business model already used by companies such as Google. An example of this is via its “pay per click” programme, where companies pay Google “rent” for the privilege of having links to their website appearing on the first page of the search results. This seems to be the way the delivery of internet content has and continues to evolve. One can argue that what freedom of speech campaigners tried and failed to do in last week’s vote, is to return the internet back to its early “hippy” days where all content was free and randomly delivered to users. Therefore, with their vote against the amendments to net neutrality, MEPs have made it clear that things have now moved on.
Listened to the full interview on Net neutrality fast lane and slow lane


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