I have just read Ed Vaizey’s speech on net neutrality and he seems to have confused himself with the difference of the need for transparent network traffic management that facilitates a open and fair network, and traffic prioritisation that favours isp’s pockets and restricts creativity and innovation.

He sets out three principles for a debate on net neutrality:

1. Openness – Consumers should always have the ability to access any legal content or service.

OK, good start.

2. Transparency – This is a fundamental principle which will soon be enshrined in our own national regulations following the EU Framework Review.

Yea, ok.

3. The ability to support investment and innovation – Creating the content and networks of the future requires investment.

Oh ok, innovation and investment in content AND networks. This is two principles really. Innovation needs creativity, so supporting creativity is a good thing. Investing in networks? Hmm, ok not so sure thats a issue that net neutrality has to deal with. Wasnt that what the whole Digital Britain thing was about?

He goes on to say:

This means ISPs should be allowed to manage their networks to ensure a good customer service. It means allowing flexibility in business models. It means supporting competition.

OK that still acceptable to most net neutrality advocates. ISP’s do need to manage their traffic at times. Managing traffic to ensure everyone is not negatively affected by a security problem or a few over active users is acceptable to most, as long as the action of the ISP adheres to the first two principles of transparency and openness still.

The three principles he outlines are acceptable, although the third is a bit wobbly.

Here is where things go down hill:

We have got to continue to encourage the market to innovate and experiment with different business models and ways of providing consumers with what they want. This could include the evolution of a two sided market where consumers and content providers could choose to pay for differing levels of quality of service.

Oh dear. So this is why his third principle talks about investing in content AND networks. Looks like someone (ISPA?) is pressuring Ed to push for traffic prioritisation as a way of getting cash from content providers to enable ‘investment and innovation’ in ISP’s networks.

Is it a coincidence that the ‘ISPA Holds Net Neutrality Workshop at the Parliament and Internet Conference’ recently and asks this question:

…where delegates discussed views on traffic management and explored whether there is a need for more consumer awareness and protection.

Thats a good discussion to have, traffic management, yes…

Roy from O2 broadly supported the market competition angle and highlighted that prioritisation of traffic enables ISPs to offer tailored services that deliver the packages that their customers demand

Wait!?! How did they get from discussing traffic management to traffic prioritisation. They are not the same thing.

Ofcom made it clear that issues relating to freedom of expression were not for Ofcom to decide upon and had to be dealt with by Government.

Freedom of expression? Ok, so i guess it was accepted that traffic prioritisation is different to management and limits freddom of expression and creativity? Then ofcom palms off the responsibility to the Government. Is Ed’s speech the answer to the ISPA’s question?

Ed’s speech: http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Media/documents/2010/11/17/EdVaizey.pdf
ISPA link: http://www.ispa.org.uk/news/page_890_696c7a1f32abb3668a73b57ab39bebb8.html#2