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Dutch enshrine mobile neutrality as regulator backs off cable

The Netherlands has become Europe’s first country to enshrine network neutrality in law by banning its mobile telephone operators from blocking or charging consumers extra for using Internet-based services like Skype .

The measure, which was adopted with a broad majority in the lower house of the Dutch Parliament will prevent KPN, the incumbent telco and the Dutch Vodafone and T-Mobile, from blocking or charging for Internet services.

Advocates hailed the move as a victory for consumers, while industry spokespeople predicted that mobile broadband charges could rise in the Netherlands to compensate for the new restrictions.

Under the law, Dutch operators could be fined up to 10 per cent of their annual sales for violations by the national telecommunications regulator, OPTA.

KPN said that the measure could lead to higher broadband prices in the Netherlands because operators would be limited in their ability to structure differentiated data packages based on consumption.

Meanwhile OPTA has concluded in its draft opinion on the television market that the Dutch cable sector does not need more regulating it. The move was welcomed by Cable Europe:

“OPTA made a decision today which reflects market realities. After thorough economic analysis of the fast accelerating digitisation and increasing convergence in the TV sector, OPTA has proposed to no longer impose regulatory obligations on the cable companies UPC and Ziggo, an example of better regulation. This is part of an encouraging trend as the European Commission has recently expressed concerns regarding Belgian regulators attempts to impose rules on an evolving TV market.”

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