Broadband News

Virgin, Vodafone and Everything Everywhere shun new Open Internet COP

Three of the largest communications providers have not signed up to a new code of practice to support the Open Internet. The new voluntary code, set forth by the Broadband Stakeholder Group has had ten signatories including the largest broadband providers in the UK, but Virgin Media, Vodafone and Everything Everywhere have opted not to sign.

The principles of the code build on an earlier traffic management agreement which the three shunners did sign up to. The three new commitments that were added are:

  • Users should be able to access all legal content
  • There should be no discrimination against content providers on the basis of commercial rivalry
  • Traffic management policies should be clear and transparent

These principles should help ensure that the country maintains net-neutrality, and avoids any negative discrimination against another companies traffic or services. It also posts some restrictions - providers cannot use the term "Internet Access" to describe their products where some classes of legal content or applications are blocked or unavailable. This is expanded to state that products must support full internet access giving a consumer access to any content, applications or services that are available on the Internet. This was the reason that Vodafone opted out of the code stating that it was "impractical".

"These plans offer internet access to smartphone and dongle users, but under the code we would have been unable to use the phrase 'internet access' to describe many of the services enjoyed by customers."

Vodafone Spokesman

Mobile networks have traditionally taken a harsh stance on Voice over IP (VoIP) services such as Skype which allow free calls between users and can easily erode a providers revenue. Blocking these services on mobile networks is common across Europe and Vodafone's policy is to charge extra (£15 per month) to give access to VoIP services. This would clearly be against the Open Internet policies defined in this code and would be one thing that is stopping them from signing up. Virgin Media instead thought that the policy was too vague and could lead to misinterpretation and it would seek greater clarity before it would consider signing.

"This voluntary agreement is great news for consumers. It marks a significant commitment from the leading ISPs to uphold the principles of an open internet and gives certainty to their customers. The internet has been built on openness and low barriers to entry, and this agreement will ensure that continues. By committing to transparency, these ISPs are empowering their customers to make informed decisions about the services they want."

Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries

The ten signatories are: BE, BT, BSkyB, KCOM, giffgaff, O2, Plusnet, TalkTalk, Tesco Mobile, Three. Click to see the full Open Internet Code of Practice.


Vodafone (and other mobile nets) have an age related content filter, so they would indeed not be able to call in internet access as the code requires that "users should be able to access all legal content".

  • herdwick
  • over 8 years ago

Makes you wonder why VM pulled out due to those 3 simple points. Maybe it is time the government or ofcom stepped in and forced them to comply instead of it being a voluntary code of practise.

Although I am sure ofcom is in VM's back pocket...

  • Joppy
  • over 8 years ago

@herdwick - It could be related. TalkTalk have a content filter also. Maybe if you can opt out then it's still fine to market it as such.. (although you can do that with Voda if over 18)

  • john
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • over 8 years ago

- Users should be able to access all "legal content"

Internet policing still around as always, surprisingly even call "Open" practice. So anything deemed illegal by RIAA/MPAA/etc...

  • throwaway
  • over 8 years ago

I know that T-Mobile block VOIP calls, (as per their T&Cs)and one can understand why, but do O2 permit them?

  • Michael_Chare
  • over 8 years ago

not had an issue with skype on O2 (ok giffgaff but should be the same thing as they use there system that Injects disconnect packets if the DPI thinks its bad)

nothing an VPN fixs anyway (on my t-mobile sim youtube was unusable unless i turned on the VPN as it was not streaming fast enough, with VPN on i was getting 4-6mb speeds)

  • leexgx
  • over 8 years ago

My experience (may be more limits with T-Mobile like P2P throttling)...

3 = Torrent throttling
O2 = P2P throttling and dongles get priority over mobiles.
T-Mobile = Non-contract limited to 3G (384Kbps) and full monty packages limited to 1Mbps.
Vodafone = Some internet radio blocked.

  • otester
  • over 8 years ago

Talk Talks content filter is an opt in system and as yet I have not opted in as I don't want it.But my youngest child is 24.

  • searcher100
  • over 8 years ago

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