net neutrality debate  ( -  The chief of UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has said the authority will investigate web traffic control measures later this year as the net neutrality debate rumbles on.

Ed Richards, who gave a keynote speech at the Cable Congress conference taking place in Brussels this week, said that in light of Europe’s move to adopt region-wide telecoms legislation, national regulators needed to assess the ‘openess’ of the internet and decide whether action needed to be taken to preserve it.

Traffic management measures are now commonly used by service providers to prevent bandwidth hogging by heavy users of services. But there is great concern that bandwidth throttling could be used ant competitively to restrict rival services.

Richards also said that service providers need to be more transparent in explaining what measures they use to their customers.

UK ISP Virgin Media, which is a vocal opponent of net neutrality (in fact CEO Neil Berkett once referred to the concept of net neutrality as “a load of bollocks”) just last week implemented web traffic management software from Zeus to ensure its customers receive a decent web experience even during spikes in demand.

Alex Brown, senior product manager for internet products at Virgin Media, said: “We wanted to offer customers better email and web services but at the same time ensure we can deliver them without impacting service levels or compromising security. Since we are dealing with massive volumes of traffic, reliability and performance is of paramount importance.”

When asked if Virgin was introducing throttling – one of the functions of the Zeus implementation – by stealth, we received no reply.

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