"David Cameron's 'Google-model' vision for copyright under fire"
and http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/google for more
BT, Sky and Virgin Media – along with the rest of Britain's leading internet service providers – will next week outline an industry-wide "code of practice" on how they explain controversial "two-speed internet" policies to customers. The group will make their announcement at a ministerial summit on net neutrality chaired by culture minister Ed Vaizey – which will also be attended by Tim Berners-Lee, the founder of the web and a strong supporter of net neutrality – on 16 March. The ISPs plan to publish how they manage internet traffic – such as video viewing, music streaming and movie downloading – in comparison to their rivals. That will make clear if they throttle popular services such as the BBC's iPlayer to maintain capacity for all customers on their network. However, the companies – whose ranks also include the leading mobile operators – will not commit to a minimum service standard, even though some phone companies believe that "there should be a basic commitment to let people browse everything on the internet". The agreement follows a wide-ranging debate on "net neutrality" – whether ISPs should be allowed to charge content companies such as the BBC or Google for faster delivery to the nation's homes. BT, TalkTalk and others argue that ISPs should be free to strike deals for more efficient delivery. Under the plans, described as a "voluntary code of conduct" by people at the meeting, ISPs will be compelled to publish a "scorecard" of how they speed up and slow down traffic and for which companies. But internet providers will still be allowed to throttle public access to video and peer-to-peer services if they wish. The Broadband Stakeholders Group, which has been facilitating meetings with ISPs on traffic management since late last year, will publish a statement shortly after the meeting. ISPs hope the move will head off an enforced code of practice by the communications regulator Ofcom. Most ISPs manage traffic at peak times to enable faster speeds for their customers. The BBC has been in fights with ISPs over the amount of bandwidth used to stream its iPlayer service. In November, the corporation said it would introduce a "traffic light system" on the iPlayer, so that viewers could say whether their connection was being slowed down by providers. Mark Thompson, the BBC director general, publicly intervened in the net neutrality debate in January, saying an internet "fast lane" could undermine the corporation's responsibility to deliver programming to the nation's homes. "As the web becomes a vehicle for the transport of richer and richer content, the question of whether all content from all providers is treated equally by the networks becomes ever sharper," he said.
Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee will attend the gov summit on net neutrality