The Australian Service Providers Association, SPAN, is pushing for the rise of “preferential handling” of Internet traffic, as opposed to today’s approach of first-come, first-served.

Currently, net neutrality refers to the policies applied to traffic travelling across the Internet. The existing de facto standard treats traffic on a “first-come, first-served” basis. This provides equal performance to all types of Internet traffic, but hampers certain time-sensitive traffic such as VOIP and streaming video.

SPAN claims “preferential handling” should be given to time-sensitive traffic, thereby improving the quality and performance of such services. A surcharge could be applied for the priority treatment.

John Kranenburg, SPAN chairman, said it’s important that there’s an “open, competitive framework” for the industry.

“Today’s services are operating across the Internet in an open and competitive framework. We need to be vigilant to ensure that the free environment we have is maintained,” he said.

SPAN considers preferential handling could be available now if only providers could agree on standards. “In corporate IP networks, they’re using preferential handling as a matter of course,” Kranenburg said.

However, the net neutrality set are reluctant to change any aspect of Internet traffic algorithms.

This is clinging to the past, Kranenburg said. “It’s a socialistic idea. Delays on voice services impact the quality, while data services are only delayed slightly.”

However, as with any open industry standards, change will take time.

“Within the Internet obviously, it requires some level of cooperation across the industry. There’s a bit of industry collaboration that needs to be done to set up those mechanisms,” he said.

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