A Two- Tiered Internet is Upon Us!

And why not?  We already pay for premium Internet content, e..g Netflix and other video streaming, WSJ and other on line newspapers/magazines, telco TV, mlb.com, nba.com, nhl.com, etc.  It appears that BT Wholesale and Metro PCs in the U.S. will be introducing two tiered networks where customers will pay more for a higher quality of service.

1.  BT Wholesale”s new service, called Content Connect, will be sold to their UK broadband network provider customers.  It aims to give those network providers tthe opportunity to charge content owners for high quality distribution of their video products to consumers. Sally Davis, head of BT Wholesale, said that by using BT’s new network,broadband providers should be able to reduce their costs partly by cutting spending on “backhaul” connections between telephone exchanges and their core infrastructure.

Ms Davis said broadband providers using BT’s network may be able to give their customers the option to make an on-demand payment for watching a live event such as football. The payment would be in addition to charges associated with watching premium content like live football games. 

Content Connect Key Benefits (according to BT)

-End Users benefit from the new Content Connect product:

•TV video entertainment will be delivered to the home through a broadband line with the option of an enhanced experience including HD internet video on TV.

-ISPs benefit from the new Content Connect product:

•Brings ISPs into the content value chain and allows them to earn revenue from delivering internet video from CSPs .

CSPs benefit from the new Content Connect product:

•CSPs can have their content delivered at a higher quality of service.  


As one might expect, BT has been sharply criticized for offering Content Connect by advocates of Internet freedom.  They perceive the new BT offering as one of the first steps on the road to a two-tier internet, meaning content providers unwilling or unable to pay extra will be hampered by a slower service.

Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, said the issue comes down to ISPs competing with the internet for content delivery.  “The result could be a fundamental shift away from buying services from the internet to bundled services from ISPs: which would reduce competition and take investment away from internet companies.”

BT defended its decision by saying it should be allowed the freedom to make commercial deals with content providers, such as 4OD and YouTube, to ensure faster delivery.  “We are an enabler – we are not dictating anything,” said the company.  “It will be up to broadcasters, ISPs and content owners to work together to decide on the charging model for a service.”

Proponents of net neutrality argue that fair access to content for all providers is one of the founding principles of the internet, and founding father of the web Tim Berners-Lee is well-known as an outspoken supporter of it.


2.  Meanwhile, MetroPCS’s “4G LTE” mobile broadband plans, are charging subscribers for content delivery at different rates.  Before selecting a wireless plan with MetroPCS, subscribers have to decide how much content you want access to.  Here’s the breakdown of the three plans MetroPCs is offering:

•The $40 service plan offers unlimited talk, text, 4G Web browsing with unlimited YouTube access. For $40 per month you can watch as many YouTube videos as you like and browse the web freely. But if you try and watch a video through a service other than YouTube it will not play because your plan does not cover it.
•The $50 service plan includes the same unlimited talk, text, 4G Web services and unlimited YouTube access as the $40 plan. Additional features include international and premium text messaging, turn-by-turn navigation with MetroNAVIGATOR™, ScreenIT, mobile instant messaging, corporate e-mail and 1 GB of additional data access, with premium features available through MetroSTUDIO™ when connected via Wi-Fi, including audio capabilities to listen and download music and access to preview and trial video content.
•The $60 service plan provides the same premium features as the $50 plan, plus unlimited data access and MetroSTUDIO premium content such as 18 video-on-demand channels and audio downloads.  Ultimately MetroPCS is only offering a complete Internet experience for $60.

The new plans will initially be offered in Boston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Sacramento and San Francisco. Atlanta, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando and Tampa will come online at some point this year.

For more details:  MetroPCS’ New 4G LTE Plans Offer Unprecedented Value and Choice with Prices Starting at Just $40


Also, this article: MetroPCS LTE Plans to Charge More for VoIP & Streaming


3.  What side are you on in this network neutrality vs two tiered Internet paradigm shift?  Please comment in the box below!