Plans are afoot in Europe to devise a new two tier system for the internet to replace the current single level one. The tiers would be split to create a high speed priority path for important, emergency traffic, whilst the other would be left for more generalised use. This would allow ISPs to charge a higher fee for dramatically faster internet.
The plans are currently being debated by EU members but would need to be accepted by the European Parliament, European Commission and the EU Council before they could come into practice. Providers like Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom are in favour of the proposed system.
The two tier system is not a new idea, and similar plans have already been rejected in the US. In February 2015 the Federal Communications Commission introduced new rules to ensure companies will act in the best interests of consumers, particularly by not restricting or blocking internet traffic for certain demographics. This meant a dual layered internet would not be possible. Commissioners who supported the new laws claimed that privileged people should not have priority on the internet while other members of the general public lagged behind.
The idea of a two tier internet is an intriguing one, but would cause several issues. Firstly, how would traffic be designated as priority? Second, how much of a premium would people have to pay for the higher tier internet? Thirdly, and most importantly, how much would the second tier be slowed if all non-priority users were using it?
The plans are designed to revolutionise the internet but it could actually cause it to take a step backwards and leave people with slower speeds unless they are willing to pay for priority services. If the proposal does get support and go through, it could go against the whole idea of the internet and exclude users. Seemingly the biggest winners would be the ISPs and the people willing to pay for priority speeds. We look forward to this story with interest to see how it could develop and possibly change the way we use the internet in the future.