Net Neutrality

Discussion about net neutrality, which was kicked off in this topic -

To be honest, we do kinda have this issue with mobile - Three is leading the way for example: and others will most likely follow. The competition between mobile is quite bad IMO, while we have four major carriers they’re pretty much doing exactly the same, so if you’re unhappy about one it’s very likely the others are just as bad.

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It’s interesting to watch how net neutrality has transformed from a technical debate into the standard tribal identity politics nonsense. The core tenet to net neutrality is that all types of packets should be treated equally, regardless of the data being carried.

The idea that when the network is congested that there should be equal priority (per packet) between high intensity uses such as streaming video and downloading video games and low intensity uses such as reading the news or making a VoIP call (or even using Monzo) just seems odd. Obviously ISPs should be allowed to prioritise that traffic that they deem to be high priority. Arguing otherwise is like saying ambulances should have to queue behind other cars because we want “road neutrality”.

I can kinda see what you mean, but that’s bad comparison. Ambulances go fast to save someone’s life. ISPs want to get more money or more control over their users. ISPs won’t come up with rules that are beneficial for users, but with stuff that makes things convenient for them.

You mentioned streaming video vs reading news. What if streamed video is school stuff that teenager watches and news is about Kardashians? ISPs most surely will target intense transfers over light stuff, but what good would it do? They don’t have to care as much about infrastructure and service they provide. They can easily say ‘sorry man, you can’t stream this 4k video because it’s lesser priorioty, we will only allow 720p’, and there’s no way to argue about ISP not providing the service you pay for.

My point of view, which may be idealistic and technically insane, but it fits my logical standpoint, if I pay for some transfer speed, I should get that transfer speed and I should be able to use it for what I want. Back in good old days, when cable internet was starting in Poland, contracts had MINIMAL speed, if you paid for 10Mbps, you got exactly that (sometimes a bit more and then it was an awesome day). Now, we have clauses like ‘up to 100Mbps’, clever legal trick so you already can’t complain.

I don’t care about politics in all this. ISPs provide a service, this service is ‘just’ to give me cable. I know it’s US, but it could be a precedent, so I don’t want it to happen at all.

I have one more comparison, what they plan to do is an equivalent of ‘you can only watch this tv show A, becaue it’s good for you and everyone AND you can only watch 2 hours of tv show B’ for a cable tv. No one would have agreed to that, why should we allow it in context of internet? :slight_smile:


I would be totally fine with a provider that sells bandwidth instead of amount of data like they currently do. Should the network be congested, someone paying for the higher tier should take priority over someone taking the lower tier. This will allow everyone to choose (with their wallet) how much their data is worth.

This is fully inline with net neutrality by the way, as the ISP is not discriminating based on the content of packets but only on how much the user is paying for them to get delivered.

Not sure where you’re getting your definitions from but that is not inline with net neutrality in any way.

In my example you’re just buying a bigger “pipe” (in terms of radio waves) but you’re free to send any kind of packets down into it and they’ll be treated the same way no matter their destination or content.

I don’t see how this hurts net neutrality - if that was the case then any broadband package would also be non neutral since they’re selling you only a certain amount of bandwidth.

Net neutrality is about what policy is used when there’s congestion within the fat pipes that connect ISPs and the wider Internet. It has nothing to do with the “up to 100Mbps” claims you get on adverts. They’re all about the cable length from the cabinet to your house (BT) or congestion at the local cabinet (Virgin Media).

If you’re on a BT based product then whilst the advert might say “up to 80Mbps” once you go to buy it they’ll give you a smaller range and once it’s actually delivered you will get a consistent rock-solid bandwidth figure (unless you have a line fault of some kind). Virgin Media’s issues are caused by congestion at the street cabinet level and rather ironically it’s only because the street cabinets don’t (and realistically can’t) discriminate based on packet type that the congestion is particularly noticeable.

There will always be times when there’s congestion for one reason or another and when there isn’t enough of something to go round (bandwidth in this case) there has to be a rationing policy in place. The argument over net neutrality is what that rationing policy should look like.

Should transfers be rationed on an “every byte is equal” basis which would see a 4K movie or a small computer game put on an equal footing with 100,000 web page loads or 10,000,000 IM messages? The effect of congestion during a movie would usually be to see the quality temporarily drop which seems far more desirable than webpages hanging when loading.

I get that congestion happens, but why it happens? :slight_smile: ISPs sell more than they can, or to be precise, what infrastructure can deal with. Aren’t they basically trying to regulate congestion that is caused by bad infrastructure? Rome wasn’t build in a day, I’m far from pointing fingers at ISP ‘just build a better network and no priority will be needed’. Better infrastructure is the bulk of solution though.

There are countries like South* Korea. I know that I just called most internet advanced country, but did South Korea reach this status by throttling internet? Whatever South Korea did to it’s state of internet turned out to be right for customers, why US is trying to do the opposite, throttle rather than expand?

I accidentally wrote North initially, but found it when re-reading. That would make an awkward comment. :smiley:

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Of course ISPs sell more than what infrastructure can handle. If you want a dedicated line with no contention you can buy one but it costs more than £3000/year.

If ISPs only sold you a guaranteed slice and let no one else touch your share then my home Internet would drop from it’s reasonably consistent 50Mbps to under 1Mbps which would mean that rather than being able to stream perfect 4K 99.9% of the time with the occasional flicker I’d be never able to even stream 720p.

We’re all better off sharing contended connections that cost a pittance and meet our needs 95% of the time. And we also have the option of paying the full cost to ensure it’s uncontended.

The truth on net neutrality isn’t that it’s good or bad but that it’s just largely irrelevant. Americans are afraid of losing it because of all these awful things that MIGHT happen but we’ve never had net neutrality (and most other countries haven’t) and our broadband is comparable to America’s (actually ours is way better but that’s nothing to do with them having net neutrality).

My understanding is that it’s the exact opposite of what you’re saying. I think the issue in the US is about rules which prevent ISPs from charging customers more or less to access certain content providers, by discriminating amongst the traffic going from the cabinet into your house. And this is not just on content type (video, html file), but actual providers. So that, for instance, if the rules are removed, the ISP could charge more for 4K from Netflix, or not allow a new startup video site through (e.g. if it competes with a service the ISP has a stake in).

This is a concern in the US because there are vast swathes of the country where there is only one realistic ISP option. So if you don’t like the service offered, you’re stuck. And if your ISP has vested commercial interests in content/media deals, you’re stuck. This isn’t about traffic management/quality of service, etc. At least, that’s my understanding of the concern.

But it is very specific to one country and a specific set of rules that are currently out for consultation. If people want more/less ‘net neutrality’ (whatever that means) here, they’d be better served in defining what they want, figuring out what is preventing this within the UK regulatory and commercial setting, and then campaigning specifically for/against it. I’m not sure there’s anything for us to gain by supporting/opposing a very specific campaign in a different country aimed at influencing their regulatory framework.


What I spelled out is what net neutrality is about to telecoms company (and what it started off as).

What you spelled out is what pro-net neutrality campaigners fear might happen.

They’re both consequences of the same thing though, giving ISPs the ability to prioritise some traffic over others.

Charging more for content from a particular provider would still be illegal in America without net neutrality, due to anti-trust laws.

Agreed that it makes more sense to look at how things work elsewhere, although you could argue that exactly what net neutrality campaigners are worried about has occurred recently over here with Three’s Go Binge and T-Mobile’s Binge On. These are preferential deals for particular content that has been struck between the ISP and the content provider.


I don’t mind if total infrastructure capacity might be smaller than a sum of capacities required for all users. This is normal business, not everyone is using internet for 100% of the time with 100% of capacity. The question is about providing service that’s good and what that service is.

As an end consumer, I want to have what I always had, speed as advertised (95% of the time is good too) and equal access to all content within the speed I purchased. If they start messing with what I want to do on the internet and limiting speed, this will make me unhappy. Net neutrality movement and whole shenanigans does impact this. If ISP decides that streaming videos is 3rd tier of importance and I can only watch it in potato quality or not at all - sad panda! :panda_face:

I’m okay if product they sell says 30Gb of data, but I want to use 30Gb with equal speed on everything. If this was only ISP within miles, that would leave me with no option to watch Twitch or to watch Twitch on a toaster. If Twitch is internet and ISP acronym says ‘internet service provider’, it can’t be ‘some internet services provided’. :smiley:

If some countries block/censor access to services (Great Firewall of China as an example) and it makes people concerned to say the least, why idea of limiting access to services in US would a good thing? I dare to say that ISPs would soon find some loophole to block certain content (I don’t mind ISPs blocking illegal content).