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Culture minister backtracks on 'fast-lane' web access

Ed Vaizey says he is in favour of net neutrality

Culture minister Ed Vaizey has backtracked on his plans to introduce 'fast lane' access to the web.

Last week, Vaizey revealed he believes content providers that require large amounts of bandwidth to pass their data to consumer, such as the BBC and Google, should be charged by ISPs to ensure web users accessing the site get the fastest speeds possible. Meanwhile, consumers that use lots of bandwidth should also be charged a premium.

"We have got to continue to encourage the market to innovate and experiment with different business models and ways of providing consumers with what they want," he said at the time.

"This could include the evolution of a two-sided market where consumers and content providers could choose to pay for differing levels of quality of service. Content and application providers should be able to know exactly what level of service they are getting especially if they are paying for it."

However, the minister now claims his speech was misinterpreted.

"People are already entitled to choose the speed of their connection, but we're not saying one ISP should be able to prioritise one provider's content over another and I don't support the commercial decision to downgrade a rival's site," Vaizey told The Telegraph.

Vaizey then told The Guardian he aggress with creator of the web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who is in favour of net neutrality, that sees all traffic treated equally.

However Berners-Lee said: "There's no passage in [Vaizey's] speech where he says he's against net neutrality," he said. "We have discussed it on the phone. But I can't say yet that we're entirely in line."

See also: EU: Competition may not provide net neutrality

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