Net neutrality hysterics: Stop crying wolf

Don't fret about net neutrality. The digital divide is the real internet scandal...

...another CDN player in the UK - hardly grounds for crying "save the internet". The starting gun for that fight should be when an ISP starts threatening to block access to or throttle rivals' services.

Traffic shaping and traffic management
It's worth noting that traffic shaping and traffic management are also nothing new. ISPs can and do throttle traffic already - at peak times, for specific types of content, and on large downloads and uploads, as they see fit.

Cable broadband ISP Virgin Media, for instance, admits in its T&Cs it "sometimes moderates the speeds of customers who are downloading and/or uploading an unusually large amount" - noting that shaping and throttling can vary depending on the broadband package you are paying for.

This traffic shaping does not extend to slowing down particular publishers' content, however, as a Virgin Media spokesman was keen to stress: "We have no plans to prioritise particular types of content on the basis of who publishes or owns it."

With the rise and rise of online video, network providers are generally more worried about managing traffic demand on their networks than ensuring they grind rivals' services into the dust, but by all means keep your eyes peeled.

Yes, it's true that by using BT's CDN an ISP might in future decide to super-speed its own online TV service - and then throttle its rival. But we're not at that point yet. And indeed it may never happen so let's not cry over milk that not even spilt. Customers of the ISP that acts in such a way would surely vote with their feet.

No need for regulation or legislation
The UK government's view on net neutrality is that it supports the status quo. Which means Ed Vaizey and co believe there is enough competition in the broadband market to nix the need for any regulation or legislation to enshrine the principle in law.

Rather, they say, ISPs should be free to experiment with services - provided they are clear about any traffic management policies they implement so consumers can be informed enough to vote with their feet. Which all sounds pretty sensible.

If you want a bona fide internet-based inequality to get fired up about then look to the ongoing discrepancy between the high-speed internet access haves and have-nots.

A two-tier access based on speed continues to keep scores of Brits confined to the broadband slow lane, with only a typically metropolitan minority able to enjoy the fibre-fuelled superfast internet superhighway. This issue of broadband speed is changing but slowly, so don't be shy about making your cry heard.