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The UK broadband community appears divided over the merits of the new Voluntary Code of Practice on net neutrality, which aims to safeguard the equal treatment of web traffic.

A number of leading broadband providers - including BT, TalkTalk, Sky, O2, Plusnet and Three - have signed up to the Broadband Stakeholders Group's (BSG) new code.

In doing so, they have committed to ensuring the provision of "full and open internet access", to more transparent network management, and the equal treatment of content.

Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, said the voluntary agreement is "great news" for British consumers.

"It marks a significant commitment from the leading broadband providers to uphold the principles of an open internet and gives certainty to their customers," he stated.

"The internet has been built on openness and low barriers to entry, and this agreement will ensure that continues. By committing to transparency, these [firms] are empowering their customers to make informed decisions about the services they want."

However, three other major broadband providers - Virgin Media, Everything Everywhere and Vodafone - have so far refused to join their industry rivals in signing up.

The companies have expressed concerns that the code is too vague and ill-suited to the needs of the current market.

A Virgin Media spokesperson said the firm has no intention of discriminating or treating data differently on the basis of who owns or publishes it.

However, they told consumer group Which? that the broadband provider would not be signing up to the BSG code as it stands.

"We had tried to encourage something that would be clearer for industry and give consumers improved transparency," the spokesperson stated.

"However, these principles remain open to misinterpretation and potential exploitation so, while we welcome efforts to reach a broad consensus to address potential future issues, we will be seeking greater certainty before we consider signing."

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