Sent this this morning.
I have been a loyal NTL/Virgin Media customer for the last five years and have, until now, had nothing but praise for the speed and value of service offered by your company and its predecessor. I work in IT and media and consider your broadband service to be a vital and valued service in my daily life.
Thus it is with great sadness that I read your uninformed, disparaging and offensive criticisms of the concept of net neutrality and your intentions regarding Virgin Media and your future plans to “put any website or service that won’t pay Virgin a premium to reach its customers into the ‘Internet bus lane.’”
Your attitude (“Net Neutrality is ‘bollocks’” – is this appropriate language for a prominent CEO?) and your demonstrated understanding of the principles that have made the Internet the economic powerhouse it has grown to be are very disappointing.
Net Neutrality is, I concede, a somewhat conceptual controversy and I also concede that the current economic environment make the idea of premium content appealing. However, this argument is flawed; the Internet is valuable because of its breadth and its democratised base of information and this egalitarianism has led to the growth of internet phenomena such as YouTube, Facebook and Wikipedia; cornerstones of the modern online experience.
Conversely, I would argue that recent attempts to create a network which favour content from larger players at the expense of the little guy have created such dismal failures as the Compuserve and AOL systems of the mid 1990’s, the failure of WAP to engage the public’s interest at the beginning of this decade and the anaemic level of content many mobile providers provide for online surfing (compare the average level of online content use on mobile service provision with the massive take-up offered by the iPhone).
People like the Internet because it is free, because their opportunities for exploration are vast and they can do what they want in a way that is hard to compare with any other electronic medium that preceded it.
Virgin Media has a reputation as an innovator and pioneer in the broadband service it offers its UK customers and your exclusive access to the cable system means you have much more to offer. You can use this potential you have to offer your customers the service we want and keep us happy, or you can squander our trust in order to make a few short-term content deals. The choice is yours but I urge you, let history be your guide.
I wish you well.