Ofcom announces 'softer' net-neutrality guidelines

Telecoms regulator Ofcom has announced that it has revised its guidance on the 'net neutrality' protection rules in the UK. The new proposal, which will soften some of the existing rules, aims to ensure that ISPs have the ability to innovate, develop new services and manage their networks as the online world continues to develop.

Selina Chadha, Ofcom’s Director of Connectivity, said: “The net neutrality rules constrain the activities of broadband providers, and could be restricting their ability to develop new services and manage their networks. We want to make sure they can also innovate, alongside those developing new content and services, and protect their networks when traffic levels might push them to their limits. We believe consumers will benefit from this.”

Ofcom is responsible for monitoring and ensuring compliance with the net neutrality rules and put the current rules in place in 2016. However, since then there have been significant developments in the online world, such as a huge surge in the use of streaming services and changes to how people use the internet and social media in general.

The guidelines, which were established to ensure that there is fair access to all content and applications online regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites, mean that ISPs are unable to favour content sources based on who pays them the most money. For example, this means that ISPs can’t slow the quality of one service in favour of another.

However, according to reports, content providers including the BBC and Netflix are opposed to any weakening of these protection guidelines, as they fear that this might shift more costs from ISPs onto their shoulders. Ofcom has said in a statement that it has reviewed its current rules to ensure net neutrality continues to serve everyone’s interests and improve consumers’ experiences online.

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