The recent news that Virgin is throttling download speeds for high speed broadband customers may cause resentment among these customers, but it’s really no surprise – It’s just another chapter in the ongoing net neutrality debate.

ZDNet news story quotes a Virgin spokesperson stating that its traffic management policy “is designed to ensure the vast majority of customers get the high quality of service they expect from Virgin Media's fibre-optic broadband without being negatively affected by extremely heavy users using more than their fair share at the busiest times.”

A tiered system like this, based on speed or data consumption benefits everyone in the broadband market. Those who need to stream movies or large amounts of data can do so with a service that fits their needs and those who just need email and basic web surfing can do that too. The net neutrality debate around whether certain applications (such as VoIP) should be accelerated has been going on for a while and moves like this are necessary because of the unrelenting need for more bandwidth.

What we need are smarter networks. We are sufficiently savvy today to detect what kind of traffic is travelling over a network – be it voice, video, streamed audio, email or web browsing – and treat it accordingly.