Two speed broadband – there is no faster

18Nov10

It seems that our politicians are easily fooled by the telecos and their regulatory capture. Just yesterday the UK’s Culture minister Ed Vaizey announced his support for a ‘two-speed‘ internet. The idea is superficially attractive – content providers pay a premium to have their stuff delivered faster, and the consumer benefits from improved service. It’s like the company you buy petrol from also paying your road tolls.

The problem – there is no faster. There is only slower.

This isn’t about BT etc. building the online equivalent of the M6 Toll. This is about BT etc. building the online equivalent of the M4 bus lane.

For sure it would be nice if somebody was building the extra physical infrastructure to bring me a faster internet. But that’s not what’s happening here. The UK’s ambitions are still set desperately low at providing 2Mbps services for all, and now our politicians want to allow the open part of that to be slowed down even more.

Let’s also figure out who pays, and for what… ‘Heavy bandwidth’ services (anything that distributes video) are singled out as ‘most likely to be hit with higher charges’. These services already pay for big fat pipes, and it’s fair to ask why should they pay again? It’s also fair to ask who does the paying? With YouTube and ITV.com charges could be passed back to advertisers, but I fail to see the win here. With BBC iPlayer it would seem that there’s an expectation that a part of the TV license fee should be used as a telco subsidy (having failed to get a ‘broadband tax’ into the last finance bill). Nice money if you can get it. I wonder how much BT spends on lobbying, and how many fibre to the home roll-outs that would buy?



2 Responses to “Two speed broadband – there is no faster”

  1. 1 Richard Carpenter

    The three broadband providers who are championing this idea are Virgin Sky and BT who just by coincidence are all broadcasters themselves Hmmmm

    They all provide subscription services via Broadband, what they really mean is yes you can use broadband to download video but we want to reserve the high speed service just for our video subribers so then we can also choke download speeds for everyone else.

    It’s a win win for them because they can charge more for a service that is already slower than advertised, they can also introduce a two tier pricing model which allows them to monopolise and prioritise the downstreaming of video content and literally strangle any and all competition.

    To use the motorway analogy mentioned earlier it’s a bit like three big transport companies saying we want to reserve two lanes of the M1 just for our use and to make the one remaining lane a toll road with a speed limit of 15 mph.

    Sky are quite used to charging people twice for a product they charge for a subription service then flood it with advertising as well, sky subscribers are effectively paying double.

    This is more about protecting vested interests than anything else and sadly when big business and kingmakers like Murdoch are involved they may get there way.


  1. 1 Tweets that mention Two speed broadband – there is no faster « Chris Swan's Weblog -- Topsy.com

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