EE, Virgin Media and Vodafone sign net neutrality pledge

EE, Virgin Media and Vodafone are last of the UK’s major internet service providers to sign up to Open Internet Code of practice

Internet service providers (ISPs) EE, Virgin Media and Vodafone have signed up to the Open Internet Code, a voluntary code of practice designed to support the open internet.

This means that all the major UK ISPs operating across both fixed and mobile networks have now signed up to the code, which commits them to provide full and open internet access products with no blocked services; provide greater transparency in instances where certain classes of legal content, applications and services are unavailable on a product; and re-affirms that unreasonable traffic management practices will not be used to target and degrade the services of a competitor.

Providers will be able to raise potential cases of targeted and negative discrimination with ISPs, which, if not satisfactorily resolved, can be lodged with the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) for referral to Ofcom and the government.

Ofcom said the code provides an “effective self-regulatory model” that fulfils a “key part of government policy on net neutrality”.

Government policy on net neutrality was initially set out by Ed Vaizey MP in 2011, guaranteeing users access to all legal content, forbidding discrimination against content providers on the basis of commercial rivalry and setting out clear and transparent internet traffic management policies.

BSG CEO Matthew Evans said: “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.

More on net neutrality

“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.”

Communications Consumer Panel chair Jo Connell added: “The Code usefully supports open access to the internet and builds on previous commitments by ISPs to provide transparent information to consumers about their traffic management policies.

“The code has gained significant interest internationally as a positive example of industry responding to a developing consumer need.”

Other UK ISPs signed up to the code are BT, BskyB, giffgaff, KCOM, O2, Plusnet, TalkTalk, Tesco Mobile and Three.

Read more on Telecoms networks and broadband communications