This article originally appeared in the August issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY
Close on the heels of the FCC’s (News - Alert) Open Internet order, on April 19, 2011, the European Commission published The Open Internet and Net Neutrality in Europe. The report comes amid ongoing debate in the EU concerning the proper role of government intervention in the Internet market.
The report does not set particular neutrality rules, but rather lays a groundwork for determining what further actions must be taken to “maintain an open Internet” across the EU. The report recognizes that network neutrality touches on a number of rights and principles enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, such as the respect for private and family life, the protection of personal data, and freedom of expression and information.
The report also states that the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications is investigating network neutrality issues including barriers to switching services, blocking, throttling, transparency, and discrimination, and will publish by the end of the year the results of its investigations.
On that evidence the EC will decide whether to issue additional guidance on net neutrality, and if significant and persistent problems are substantiated, whether to issue more stringent measures to achieve competition and consumer choice, with particular emphasis on transparency, ease of switching services, rules aimed at unjustified traffic differentiation, and a prohibition of the blocking of lawful services.
Demonstrating the focus this subject is expected to receive in the coming months, in a speech given in conjunction with the release of the report, Neelie Kroes, the EU’s commissioner for the digital agenda, re-iterated her support for network neutrality, emphasizing that operators must increase service transparency, meet minimum quality requirements, and provide for speedier Internet service provider switching.
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Edited by Stefania Viscusi