Vaizey favours ISP-run two-tier internet

Net neutrality
17 Nov, 2010

The communications minister favours a two-tier speed system run by ISPs to the dismay of internet campaigners.

The Government “should do all they can” to avoid regulation of the internet, according to one of its senior ministers, but still allow ISPs to charge for speedier delivery of sites.

Ed Vaizey, Conservative MP and communications minister, claimed the Coalition should help the internet remain open and transparent and all legal content should be viewable by the general public.

However, he still believed ISPs should be allowed to manage their networks and charge content providers and users for faster access.

In a speech at the FT World Telecoms Conference, Vaizey said the current internet model had allowed for an “unprecedented level of innovation,” allowing for huge companies to emerge and make millions of dollars.

“This is a model that the British government wishes to protect,” he added. “A lightly regulated internet is good for business, good for the economy, and good for people.”

However, campaigners for “net neutrality” have hit back at the suggestion, backed by telecoms regulator Ofcom and the European Commission.

"Removing 'net neutrality' is likely to reduce innovation and reduce people's ability to exercise their freedom of speech,” said Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group (ORG).

"ORG will campaign against any market abuse, if companies like BT, Sky and Virgin restrict customer's internet access for market advantage."

However, Vaizey concluded: "The government is no fan of regulation and we should only intervene when it is clearly necessary to deliver important benefits for consumers."