Three high-profile providers absent from Voluntary Code of Conduct

Wednesday, July 25th 2012

The new voluntary Code of Conduct that lays down a set of principles in favour of the open internet is going to be unveiled tomorrow. At the same time the absence of the three leading providers in the UK - Everything Everywhere, Vodafone and Virgin Media is noted.

The Code of Conduct guarantees users access to all legal content and also guarantees non-discrimination against content providers basing on a commercial rivalry. Only after discussions between Ed Vaizey, the Communications Minister and ISPs, the Code were drafted.

PC Pro has seen the draft of the agreement and it was signed by BSkyB, BT, Three, TalkTalk and O2. At the same time the absence of high-profile providers like Vodafone, Virgin Media and the two networks of Everything Everywhere, Orange and T-Mobile was noted.

A Virgin Media spokesman told PC Pro that the company negotiated for weeks and only after that it has decided not to sign the agreement. According to the firm the agreement is not tough enough. He added that the company has no intention of making any discrimination or it won’t follow a policy of differentiation in treating data on the basis of ownership but the company is not willing to sign the agreement as it stands. He continued that the company in fact tried to induce something that would make things more transparent for customers as well as for the industry. Though these principles were misinterpreted, the company always welcome all efforts to reach a broader consensus to deal with future issues.

Everything Everywhere said that at this time it is very difficult to know how this Code is going to affect the internet experience of customers but assured that it will closely monitor the developments. The spokesman of Everything Everywhere said that it agrees with the principle of the open internet and the means to achieve it is transparency. They too believe in this and that is why last year they signed the BSG’s Code of practice on traffic management.

Though asked for comment, Vodafone did not make any comment till the time of publication.

According to the terms and conditions of the agreement, mobile networks and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are prohibited from using the term “internet access” to describe any package wherein some applications or services or certain classes of content are blocked. At the same time they could apply any restrictions they like but should not use the ‘term”. In order to manage congestion on their networks, ISPs are given the power to stifle certain types of traffic like P2P file-sharing. The Internet Service Providers also agreed to make all traffic management transparent.

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