VoIP Business and Virtual PBX
VoIP Systems

Parliament pushes for keeping Internet open

The European Parliament adopted yesterday a clear-cut position on net neutrality, giving the priority to maintaining an open Internet for all or rather than increasing its use for commercial purposes.

Resolution passed

A resolution passed by MEPs in Strasbourg calls on the European Commission to ensure that "Internet service providers do not block, discriminate against or impair the ability of any person to use or offer any service, content or application of their choice irrespective of source or target."

As the Internet evolves into a crucial market for an ever-increasing number of services, many Internet service providers are stepping up their attempts to prioritise traffic in order to offer the best and quickest services to those who pay more.

Most controversial is the intentional slow-down of Internet connections – as well referred as ‘throttling’ – for customers who do not pay the full price. Some are even inclined to block specific services just as Skype, to avoid competition with their traditional telephony services.

In their resolution, MEPs did recognise the need for a "reasonable" management of data traffic to ensure that the Internet continues to run smoothly. Nevertheless, the Parliament also evidently underlined that anti-competitive practices should not be allowed.

MEPs asked the Commission to "closely monitor the development of traffic management practices and interconnection agreements, in particular in relation to blocking and throttling of, or excessive pricing for, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and file sharing, as so then as anticompetitive behaviour and excessive degradation of quality".

The Commission as a matter of fact refrained from taking a definitive position on traffic management in its communication on net neutrality published last April. But, it did made clear that furthermore monitoring of dubious practices was required and could lead to regulatory measures hereafter.

"Reasonable data traffic management is required and very useful to prevent network congestion and the smooth running of applications and services. Even so, it is evidently understood that traffic management practices must not be used for anti-competitive purposes," said German MEP Herbert Reul, who chairs the Parliament's Industry, Innovation and Energy Committee.

Trautmann’s line is echoed by the Greens. "Net neutrality and open Internet is increasingly coming in accordance with threat, both in EU member states and beyond. The EP has today made clear that this core principle must be guaranteed across Europe," said Green MEP Philippe Lamberts.

"The Greens are calling on the European Commission to enshrine net neutrality and the rights of Internet users in European legislation, and on Commissioner Kroes to end her ambiguous stance on this vital issue," Lamberts said in a statement.

"The resolution of the European Parliament marks a step inside out. Traffic management should be permitted to the extent that it is objectively needed to safeguard both the interests of end users and the incentives to invest in new networks. MEPs seem ready to sacrifice the future of the information society on the altar of an to all appearances attractive word. Nevertheless ‘neutral’ does not mean ‘dumb’," said Andrea Renda from the Centre for European Policy Studies, a think-tank.

"We do not share the view that the European Parliament’s net neutrality resolution contradicts the Commission’s approach. The resolution calls on the Commission to monitor the development of traffic management and ensure the consistent application and enforcement of the existing EU rules, and assess whether furthermore regulatory measures are needed. This is specifically what the Commission is doing," said Ryan Heath, spokesperson for Neelie Kroes, the EU's Digital Agenda commissioner.

The socialists close the internet

Don't let the socialists close the internet, everything, even Facebook & Twitter while riots should be free. The Internet is an Anglo invention and we believe in freedom, if you don't, at that time don't use it!

At the heart of the controversy concerning net neutrality is whether access to Internet services or content should be controlled and filtered or left untouched according to the principle of ‘best effort’.

The net for economic reasons

This principle implies that no Internet service provider can prioritise traffic on the net for economic reasons. Instead, every user should be served with the providers’ best effort. This criterion has seen derogations in order to allow more professional uses of the Internet. In a nutshell, a business user willing to pay more gets a faster and better connection.

However, extending this concept to all users would run the risk that the majority would get such a poor service that it will prevent them from using the Internet. The borders between the two needs are currently being defined, and are subject to technological and regulatory developments.

More information: Euractiv
  • ·

    Herbert Reul