back to article Regulators and law don't protect UK net neutrality

There is no legal barrier in the UK to internet service providers (ISPs) blocking content from website operators who do not pay them. Neither consumer law nor telecoms regulation protects ISP subscribers, technology law podcast OUT-LAW Radio has revealed. BT last week said that it wanted the operators of web video services to …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Makes my blood boil...

    This make my blood boil, BBC/Google/etc. are already paying their share of the cost - they pay for their IP Transit/Peering points. Just because BT and other ISPs have built a business model on massive over-subscription of capacity it is not the content providers fault. It's quite simple - if you can't afford to maintain a network to provide services to your customers at the prices you charge you either:

    a) Go out of business


    b) Charge a price that relfects the costs

    It's not rocket science - without the content providers, there is no net worth looking at = no customers wanting to be online = no money in your pocket.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Funny how they don't seem to have as much of a problem with this in places such as Japan, where connections are way way faster than we have anyway.

    Britain hasn't invested enough in infrastructure over the years and now the public are going to pay the price, because I can't see Google and the BBC paying. Also if the BBC do pay then surely it is tax money anyway?

  3. John H Woods Silver badge

    Doesn't matter

    If you read the T&Cs of your current contract you will find that the bandwidth your ISP will offer you has a minimum of about 0 bps. I got into this with Orange, who said that I could not terminate the contract with them because according to the Ts&Cs I had signed up to, there was no guaranteed minimum speed, not even that of dial-up.

    Of course, the answers to the script-monkeys that read you all that BS about Ts&Cs is quite simply this: Ts&Cs are not legally binding, and the matter is open to interpretation by the courts. It would be interesting to see a test case in which a service that had been advertised as being of a suitable speed to watch online video had been deliberately downgraded so that video was no longer watchable.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    free ? don't I bloody pay for my internet connection ?

  5. Rod MacLean


    “We can’t give the content providers a completely free ride and continue to give customers the [service] they want at the price they expect,”

    In what way does that differ from “We can’t ... continue to give customers the [service] they want at the price they expect,”?

    Content providers aren't getting a free ride though are they? They pay for their machines to be connected to the internet and they pay for the bandwidth. If ISPs can't support the bandwidth then they shouldn't claim that they can in their adverts. Bastards.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This is entirely a bandwidth problem, and the real problem is that ISPs are selling their customers a bandwidth they can't deliver. The solution is to offer customers an honest product: bandwidth that they can deliver. Let the customer choose what traffic they want and at what speed, and then pay for that bandwidth.

  7. EvilJason
    Thumb Down

    I wonder....

    Does BT and other isps rent the use of the land they have cables run through or is it given to them? or did they buy it?

    Are the telcom lines public and leased to be and other providers?

    Cos there is 50p tax on all broadband from all isps to fund extending the telecom lines to rural areas that means that the lines are tax payed so publicly owned not BTs, or any other such company.

    NOW if the telecom lines are public owned or funded or leased then the ones who lease them must abide by the lease agreements.

    Change them to say that any commercial use of public telecom lines must not include the conditions of shaping or interfering in any way other than what is sold.

    I.e. unlimited means unlimited no *reasonable use applies*

    Unmonitored and unshaped.

    There using public lines OR running there own lines through public land they have to respect the public in privacy and sue.

  8. Mike Cardwell

    Leave it to the market

    "Hi. Your ISP has banned you from accessing this content. Here is a list of ISPs who don't ban their users"

  9. Andy ORourke

    Aww, Poor ISP's

    "We can’t give the content providers a completely free ride and continue to give customers the [service] they want at the price they expect"

    Stop selling Fucking unlimited packages then. I have an always on, "up to" 8Mbps (Yeah, like that ever happens) UNLIMITED* (up to a certain fair use limit) internet connection. Now if I want to spend all day streaming video to my desktop, downloading Linux ISO’s via bit torrent (because that’s all it is ever used for, I have never met anyone here who does anything else) or simply doing continuous pings to an IP address across the pond then that is my prerogative.

    The Internet Service Provider is providing me with a connection to the internet, nothing more nothing less. If they do not have the infrastructure in place to back up the number of unlimited data packages they have sold then that is their problem, not mine and not the content provider.

    I suppose it comes from the good old days when you invested in a big switch and massively oversubscribed because not all subscribers would want to make a call at the same time. Guess what ISP's that model doesn’t work with always on internet customers.

  10. DrStrangeLug

    No such thing as a "Free Ride"

    Yep, no Free Rider here. I pay for my connection , so does the BBC.

    Oh wait, there is a free ride. BT is providing content from the BBC without paying them for it.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If I pay for a 2Mbit connection I choose who to connect to

    If ISPs want to provide improved connections to content sites that pay them it might be OK. But if it is a limitation of what the customer can do with the bandwidth they are already paying for that is not OK.

    If they want to sell 100kbits connections the that is OK. Sites will have to pay to provide video to those customers.

  12. Tom C

    But every is already paying, surely?

    As a customer, I pay my ISP for a certain monthly data allowance (40Gb on my current contract). As a web host, I also pay the data centre or an ISP located there for a monthly data allowance. ISPs also have "transit agreements" in place to cover the costs of handling data transitting from one ISP to another.

    No doubt, YouTube and the BBC already pay massive amounts for the connections to their data centres. What grounds have BT and others got for asking for more?

  13. Jon Press

    And still call it "Broadband Internet"?

    There may be no law requiring a telecomms company to provide any particular service via their wires, but there is the Trades Descriptions Act. If you describe something as an "Internet" connection, I would imagine that there should be some obligation to provide access to the "Internet". Call it something like BT Online and presumably you can do as you please...

  14. HansG

    BT still coming out with this crap

    BT are unbelievable, they expect content providers to foot the bill for them overselling their service? If BT can't cope with people actually using their broadband, they should have less customers, or lower caps on their products, it's not the BBC's problem!

    BT are too used to having customers who browser the web and check emails occasional. Now they are shitting themselves because there are services coming out that the average person can and will use, while still being within their fair usage etc.

    So BT just wants a scape goat, I don't hear any other ISP moaning!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They are missing something

    My ISP routes through BT. Although my ISP is not traffic shaping ... or at least says that they are not ... what is stopping BT from packet shaping and not declaring it to either my ISP or me?

    There are gaping holes here that need to be sorted out.

    I had been getting slow video downloads for months, then after a too and fro with my ISP who claimed nothing was happening with them, and that they couldn't speak for BT ... it is strange that I can suddenly watch You Tube videos without it having to buffer more content every few seconds.

    Cynical? Me? Nah!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tit for Tat

    Not an option for the BBC but YouTube can block traffic from any ISP they choose.

    If all BT DSL subscribers found that Youtube (and other major video sites) told them thier ISP is blocked and in order to access youtube they should migrate (with a helpful list of "compliant" ISP's many would follow the instructions and move ISP. If fact, I would expect many UK ISPs would *pay* to be added to the "compliant" list.

    The ISP is just a carrier with *lots* of competition - for a big brand name web site there is often little competition or in markets such as video or news, the owners talk to each other and can often decide to take action to mitigate a common threat.

    And dont think for one minute if BT get away with this other ISP's will not do the same thing.

  17. imposter
    Thumb Down


    The sites pay at their end and we pay for the data. If I downloaded 100gig that's fine under my "unlimited" connection but if it's youtube, it's not. From the individual customer point of view it's ridiculous, from the "they don't pay" point of view, it's a lie, and if they can't afford people using their package at 100% at peak hours, and close to, the rest of the time they shouldn't provide it. If they are relying on under use, they're effectively relying on customers making the wrong choice due to poor/lack of information, absolutely any economist worth his salt will tell you, poor information is something which should be alleviated for the good of economies on the whole. Anyway in a nutshell, BT, what a shower of sh

  18. Mike Gravgaard
    Dead Vulture

    BT meets foot...

    What BT said:

    "We can’t give the content providers a completely free ride and continue to give customers the [service] they want at the price they expect,"

    What BT meant to say:

    "We are don't like they way we pay for our infer-structure and we want others to pay. Google and the BBC have lots of money, we will get money from their to prop up our terror-able service. Oooh s##t, we are looking at new connection speed swhere people will expect decent speeds. Oh so much for 21 century network, we will give then new terms and conditions stipulating that we can reduce their web speeds to sub dialup speeds depends upon site visited - that should fix it"

    Seriously what are BT on?


  19. Paul

    lies, damn lies and usage limits

    I'm pretty pleased with my ISP, newnet, because they were very honest when they reduced monthly traffic allowances having effectively asked customers whether whey wanted to pay more per month or have allowances reduced because it wasn't possible to maintain the expected high quality of service (un-shaped, un-phormed, un-filtered, un-mangled) that the customers expected.

    the result was that customers decided on a lower usage limit. service quality has remained high*. we all get usage graphs so we know what we're using, and if we do go over the top there's a reasonable additional charge per GB.

    TBH, if I don't torrent too much and don't hit iplayer too often I don't come close to the 20GB limit - in fact, towards the end of the month I usually make an effort to use it up!

    A friend was on the talktalk service and performance was very variable, usually poor, he changed ISP to same as me, choosing to actually pay for service, and it's transformed his experience - I can even VNC into his computer to fix problems, which was simply not possible before!

    I'm not affiliated with the afformentioned ISP, I only mention them because they seem to be one of the few honest organisations who don't promise top level service at unsustainable prices.

    * I get a genuine 8M line speed and I get very close to theoretical max when downloading any time of day or night; I also get consistent low latency, and can't remember any outages.

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