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Ditching the principle of net neutrality would be a damaging move for the broadband and telecoms sector, it has been claimed.

According to a Plum Consulting report, broadband providers are benefiting from the development of bandwidth-hungry online video services.

And it is in their interest to ensure the internet remains open with low barriers to entry - otherwise they may experience a rapid decline in revenue.

Brian Williamson, Director at Plum Consulting, said the open internet has supported a "virtuous circle of innovation" in applications and content provision, and also in terms of broadband access.

"The open internet benefits consumers and the whole economy," he stated – arguing against a tiered approach to broadband traffic management.

"A commitment to the open internet is now required, given the costs and risks involved in a possible departure from the open internet norm, in order to sustain innovation and investment along the value chain, to the benefit of all," Mr Williamson added.

Plum Consulting has proposed a series of measures to support the open internet, including a clear signal of commitment from EU institutions, national governments and regulators.

"Internet access should be clearly defined and the use of the term in marketing restricted to those who provide open access to the internet. This measure could be implemented nationally under consumer protection powers," the report said.

"The application of an industry code of conduct and dispute resolution procedures, through 'self-regulation with oversight', should be promoted."

Plum Consulting said open access to, and distribution of internet-based, lawful content and applications for consumers should be facilitated.

The firm claimed that policy-makers and national regulators such as Ofcom should closely monitor market developments given the risks to innovation.

"If the suggested measures prove insufficient, then intervention by national regulators utilising their powers to protect the open internet under the revised EU Electronic Communications Framework, or the introduction by policy makers of a new legally binding open internet requirement, should be considered," it added.

Earlier this year, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the world wide web, warned that the loss of net neutrality would signal the end of the internet as we know it.

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