How UK ISPs have a chokehold on our internet access

"The reason we started Poptel was because we thought the ability to communicate and access information online was going to be very important for campaigning, not-for-profit and development organisations.

"In the 1980s most of our users were spread across the world. We were motivated by the power of technology to change the world. I hope that doesn't sound pompous. And I hope it doesn't sound arrogant to say, we had a point."

There's also the contentious issue of the government's internet filter, which has been universally adopted by the big six ISPs despite widespread criticism. Independent ISP Andrews & Arnold has rejected the filter and made it clear that it won't be adopting it in any form. Stanford thinks that the blanket acceptance by the big six is bad for consumers because the filter is flawed:

"Anyone who wants to get around it, can get around it. All they're doing [the government] is blanketly blocking people who are not techie and don't want to watch that kind of material on the internet anyway. The problem now is that they're blocking perfectly legitimate websites like breast cancer information websites, because they might have breasts on them".

Market patterns

Dr Peter Cochrane, BT's former CTO, thinks that the monopolisation of the ISP market is inevitable:

"Every new technology heralds the birth of a rash of new starts and innovation, but as the market gets established, the numbers get consolidated down to a much smaller number. Steel, ships, cars, energy, PCs, laptops, cameras, etc, all started with dozens of producers in the early days but market maturity saw them all shrink down to around three or five.

"For example, all the world's battery, mobile device, TV, radio, printers, washing machines, refrigerators, and car engine markets are dominated by only three producers. So, right now, there are tens of 3D printer manufacturers. But in less than 15 years the market will be dominated by just three.

"The same is true of telecommunications companies, cable companies, mobile operators and ISPs. It's about the economy of scale and commodity technology.

"Soon there will only be three dominant telecoms companies, mobile operators and ISPs in the whole of the EU - because that is all the market can stand, and all the price point will support. Just like Tesco, Sainsbury and Morrisons - it always happens".