In the eyes of net neutrality advocates, all data was created equal. They maintain that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) shouldn’t differentiate between the sources of data and that when you type in a website address it should be delivered at the same speed no matter where, or who, the content comes from.
Our priority as Australia’s number two ISP is to provide awesome customer service and ensure our customers enjoy a seamless experience online whatever it is they need from an Internet connection.
In the US, the topic has been hotly debated for years. There, it is more common for consumers to sign up to packages offering truly ‘unlimited’ downloads and the network owners are fighting for the right to prioritise content delivered on their network, whether that’s prioritising their own content or charging users a premium for faster delivery of certain content, such as videos, news or entertainment.
This, in effect, creates a two-tier system on the Internet, long regarded by many as the last neutral media territory.
Despite the introduction of net neutrality rules by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in December 2010 offering a compromise, differentiating between fixed-line providers and the wireless Internet, the issue is still a contentious one in the US.
Earlier this month, carriers Verizon Communications and Metro PCS filed a court brief in the US arguing that broadband providers should have “editorial discretion” to prioritise their own web content, much like a newspaper has the right to decide where and when it publishes content. They argue that the FCC’s net neutrality rules from 2010 limit their right to free speech, an argument which many legal experts feel holds no weight.
One thing is for sure, this will remain a hot potato in the US and for ISPs around the globe who watch with interest as the legal fight unfolds.
The Australian view
Service providers in favour of a two-speed Internet argue that there is limited capacity on the internet and that those using the most bandwidth by delivering rich content or transferring large files should pay more.
In Australia, we have a different business model for the Internet. ISPs operate on a pay-as-you-go model, which also shapes the consumer market. Here, consumers can choose a plan with upload and download quotas to fit their usage and pay according to their needs – the more you use, the more you pay.
This is the best model for the Australian market where the majority of our traffic is from overseas, and is also the best model for all but a handful of heavy Internet users.
Consider these figures – if Australia was to switch to an unlimited model and offer users unlimited downloads, just 3% of users would account for 50% of all downloads. Quotas are designed to be an effective pay-as-you-go system to ensure users only pay for what they use and for most Australian consumers, this is the best business model for the Internet.
Real net neutrality
Operating a quota based business model ensures we’re not responsible for policing activity online – our customers pay a fair price for the services they receive and we can focus on more important issues than where their traffic is coming from.
While US providers argue about a two-tier system, our priority is to provide awesome customer service and ensure our customers enjoy a seamless experience online, whatever it is their Internet connection means to them.