U.K. Regulators Resist Calls for Network Neutrality

Published May 1, 2007

Regulators in the United Kingdom favor a cautious approach to network neutrality, stating the European policy framework already has safeguards in place to prevent an Internet service provider (ISP) from abusing its position in the information supply chain.

Network neutrality would prevent an ISP from offering a content or applications provider such as Google or Amazon transmission prioritization, regardless of whether there is an added fee.

Speaking at a March 20 event organized by Westminster e-Forum, a London-based conference producer, Dougal Scott, director of policy development for the U.K. Office of Communications (Ofcom), the British counterpart of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, said those insisting that ISPs treat all Internet services equally constitute the “most extreme” fringe of the net neutrality lobby. “There are real advantages to consumers in treating certain types of applications differently to others,” Scott said.

Claire Hobson, head of U.K. telecommunications policy for the Department of Trade and Industry, citing mass server networking, Web caching, and other forms of data acceleration performed by Internet servers and routers, said the Internet was already non-neutral. “As long as users understand what they are getting, and can switch broadband provider easily, there should not be a problem,” she said.

Steven Titch