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11 September 2014

Opinion: Fight the internet slowdown

Campaigners are taking on the world's big telcos.

Consumer New Zealand is part of a global coalition calling for a neutral internet. Overseas the debate is raging as giant telcos are forcing websites into an internet “slow lane”, making some websites suffer terribly as loading times increase.

Earlier this year Netflix, the video streaming service that accounts for massive amounts of traffic in the US, made a deal with Comcast, the largest broadband provider in the US, to ensure that consumers would always get decent speeds while accessing the site.

From a general consumer perspective (and a Consumer NZ perspective) we assume that you pay for internet access at a particular speed and that’s exactly what you should get. Not some websites at one speed and some at another.

In New Zealand we’ve already seen similar actions as telcos have made particular sites unmetered against your data cap. If two sites offer the same service but one counts against your data cap while the other doesn’t, which will you go to? That’s not a fair landscape for consumers or the owners of the sites.

These actions stifle up-and-coming sites and set up a division between the haves and the have-nots on the internet.

From there it’s easy to see how this could lead to censorship (slow lane traffic to critical websites). Your internet service provider is just that, a service provider. We do not want ISPs dictating which sites will load on our screens and which will return errors or buffer so slow as to be useless.

There are a number of organisations around the world fighting this trend from large telcos, from Austria to Cameroon to Canada. The Big Telecom vs The World campaign asks for your voice to add to the millions already actively decrying internet slow down. Join the global fight for a fair and neutral internet.

About the author:

Hadyn Green is a geek. He loves shiny new tech and the chance to try to break it. Because it's the kind of thing people ask, here is the tech Hadyn currently uses. Phone: Sony Z2 Tablet: iPad mini retina. Music player: Spotify. Headphones: Sony MDR-G55 (for walking because I hate earbuds) and Beats Studio noise-cancelling (for sitting at my desk and tuning out the world). E-Reader: Kindle Touch. Gaming: PS4, PS3, Xbox One and Xbox 360. Internet Service Provider: Snap.

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