Virgin Media Business Practice Shows Why Net Neutrality Won't Work

October 01, 2010 3:43 PM

Virgin Media announced today that they are going to cut the bandwidth available to peer-to-peer (P2P) protocols during peak Internet usage times for all customers.  Peer-to-peer protocols provide a file sharing service so that people can share media, games, and other items - both legally and illegally.  Previously, Virgin Media only restricted heavy users at peak times.  This will continue to happen alongside the introduction of P2P traffic management.

Virgin Media is, among other things, and Internet Service Provider (ISP) and as a company who operates in this business they have chosen to manage their network in the way that they see fit for their customers.  Virgin Media offers tiered packages to provide different levels of broadband service to customers who have different needs.  In addition to the P2P traffic management that they are about to start implementing, Virgin Media is rolling out increased upload speeds to all customers.  In short, they are making the best choices for their business and providing options for customers who, if they aren’t happy with the service, can leave and sign up another ISP.

Yesterday, the EU closed a three month consultation on the open internet and net neutrality.  Net Neutrality is the concept that on the Internet all network traffic should be treated equally.  An email from your gran would get the same bandwidth and network priority as streaming a film from Love Film.  In effect, ISPs like Virgin Media couldn’t manage their traffic in the way that they are proposing to do today.

It is ironic that Virgin Media made this announcement the day after the EU consultation closed.  The Virgin Media announcement demonstrates that ISPs don’t just provide access to the Internet, but they provide it in such a way that all customers benefit from choosing to buy their service.  If all ISPs had to treat all internet traffic the same way, what would happen then?  Some people would be able to watch films online and some would be able to send email, but many would be angry because their connection would stall or disconnect altogether.  And those customers would choose to switch to another ISP who, strangled by EU Net Neutrality regulation, would not be able to guarantee a reliable connection to the Internet.   And who would benefit from that?

Virgin Media announced today that they are going to cut the bandwidth available to peer-to-peer (P2P) protocols during peak Internet usage times for all customers.  Peer-to-peer protocols provide a file sharing service so that people can share media, games, and other items - both legally and illegally.  Previously, Virgin Media only restricted heavy users at peak times.  This will continue to happen alongside the introduction of P2P traffic management.

Virgin Media is, among other things, and Internet Service Provider (ISP) and as a company who operates in this business they have chosen to manage their network in the way that they see fit for their customers.  Virgin Media offers tiered packages to provide different levels of broadband service to customers who have different needs.  In addition to the P2P traffic management that they are about to start implementing, Virgin Media is rolling out increased upload speeds to all customers.  In short, they are making the best choices for their business and providing options for customers who, if they aren’t happy with the service, can leave and sign up another ISP.

Yesterday, the EU closed a three month consultation on the open internet and net neutrality.  Net Neutrality is the concept that on the Internet all network traffic should be treated equally.  An email from your gran would get the same bandwidth and network priority as streaming a film from Love Film.  In effect, ISPs like Virgin Media couldn’t manage their traffic in the way that they are proposing to do today.

It is ironic that Virgin Media made this announcement the day after the EU consultation closed.  The Virgin Media announcement demonstrates that ISPs don’t just provide access to the Internet, but they provide it in such a way that all customers benefit from choosing to buy their service.  If all ISPs had to treat all internet traffic the same way, what would happen then?  Some people would be able to watch films online and some would be able to send email, but many would be angry because their connection would stall or disconnect altogether.  And those customers would choose to switch to another ISP who, strangled by EU Net Neutrality regulation, would not be able to guarantee a reliable connection to the Internet.   And who would benefit from that?

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