Virgin Media, Vodafone and EE have promised to be more upfront with their subscribers about traffic management policies two and half years after rival, big name UK ISPs signed up to the voluntary "Open Internet Code".
The telcos have also vowed not to choke the services of competitors, such as over-the-top players – Microsoft's Skype for example, and the BBC's iPlayer.
However, the code has long made it clear that it is perfectly acceptable for ISPs to throttle traffic to "manage" congestion or block sites and services based on a court order to, for example, cut off access to pirated material or to prevent illegal child abuse images from being served up on broadband networks.
BT, Sky, EE, KCOM, giffgaff, O2, Plusnet, TalkTalk, Tesco Mobile, Three, Virgin Media and Vodafone are signatories of the code, trade body the Broadband Stakeholders Group said.
However, Virgin Media had previously been vocal in its opposition to the wording of the code. The Register was curious to know why it had had a sudden change of heart.
"We have always supported the principles in the code and, now that we have seen it in practice, are happy to sign up," a spokesman at the cable company told us.
But in 2012 it was a different story when Virgin Media opined that the code was "open to misinterpretation and potential exploitation".
The code states:
- Ensure that full and open internet access products, with no blocked services, will be the norm within their portfolio of products.
- Provide greater transparency in instances where certain classes of legal content, applications and/or services are unavailable on a product. These products will not be marketed as “internet access” and signatories will be obligated to ensure that any restrictions are clearly communicated to consumers.
- Not target and degrade the content or applications of specific providers.
"Unlike some countries where net neutrality has become a controversial topic for discussion, the UK benefits from a fiercely competitive market and high levels of transparency – which together offer the best assurance of an Open Internet," said BSG boss Matthew Evans in a canned statement.
"The code now provides an even stronger and more effective foundation, whilst also allowing for an environment where new business models for internet-based services, which benefit consumer choice, can thrive." ®