BT accused of creating two tier internet

Steve Dinneen
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A NEW BT service that will allow it to charge ISPs higher prices for better quality services has led to accusations it is creating a “two tiered internet”.

BT’s Content Connect effectively creates an online space separate from the regular internet which ISPs can stream video without sapping bandwidth from regular users.

The telecoms giant will charge ISPs different prices depending on the quality they require for particular services, in theory allowing them to better structure their broadband offering to ensure quality and speed.

However, there are fears the move could contribute to a “tiered” internet, in which smaller content providers and ISPs are squeezed out by firms which are able to pay for the fastest services.

Toby Syfret, analyst with Enders Analysis, told City A.M.: “The fear is this would upset the principles of net neutrality. It is an issue that needs to be looked at carefully.”

One industry source said the service “flies in the face of net neutrality” and could lead to “less mainstream content falling through the cracks as big players pay for faster speeds”.

BT’s managing director of products Cameron Rejali denied the service would create a two tier internet, saying it is simply a more effective way for ISPs to manage traffic.

He said “We are not saying people can’t access content unless it is paid for. You can go out and get the same content from multiple locations. But some ISPs want to pay to ensure a quality service.

“I disagree that this raises a net neutrality question. It will actually be significantly cheaper for ISPs so we do not think smaller service providers will be hurt by this.”

The system, developed by Cisco, is expected to be utilised heavily by Project Canvas, the TV on demand system of which BT is a founding member.