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If broadband is to be considered as an essential utility, then content providers may be required to contribute to infrastructure costs.

Earlier this month, prime minister Gordon Brown suggested that broadband access is now as vital as electricity or water supply.

However, Telestra's Justin Milne wrote on ZDNet that thinking of broadband services in this way could encourage ISPs to adopt new business models.

"As consumers, we pay according to our use of the resource. That's why we have gas, water and electricity meters. The more water or electricity we use, the more we expect to pay," he said.

"We accept this approach because we understand there is a cost to utility suppliers who invest in networks that supply the service to our homes."

BT recently hinted at the possibility of charging online publishers such as Google and BBC for access to their video services.

Despite pleas of net neutrality from media content providers, IT law specialist Pinsent Masons warned last week that there are no regulations preventing ISPs from blocking access to content at their own discretion.

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