EC consults on net neutrality
The European Commission has launched a public consultation seeking answers to questions on transparency, switching and certain aspects of Internet traffic management, with a view to its commitment to preserve the open and neutral character of the Internet.
The Commission notes that such questions have emerged as key issues in the ‘net neutrality’ debate that has taken place in Europe over the past years, including the recent findings of the Body of European Regulators of European Communications (BEREC).
On 29 May BEREC published the results of its traffic management investigation, which showed that several fixed and mobile network and service operators apply certain usage restrictions (blocking or slowing down of certain services) affecting a significant number of subscribers in Europe.
Input is sought from all interested public and private parties, including fixed and mobile internet service providers, Internet content and application providers (including comparison websites), equipment manufacturers, transit providers, investors, public authorities, consumers and their associations. The responses to this consultation will be crucial input for the Commission’s planned recommendations announced by European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes on 29 May 2012.
Kroes suggested there was a lack of effective consumer choice when it comes to Internet offers, and said she would use the consultation to help prepare recommendations that would generate more real choices and end the net neutrality waiting game in Europe. “Input from this consultation will help turn BEREC’s findings into practical recommendations,” she said.
In particular the Commission seeks views on:
- Internet traffic management, including congestion management, managed services and privacy issues;
- transparency, in particular regarding the actual Internet performance (speed and quality) and restrictions of Internet access products;
- the possibility for consumers to switch operators and
- Internet interconnection issues between network operators.
Responses to the public consultation should be sent before 15 October 2012.