EBU urges ‘real’ net neutrality on EU

The EBU joined voices with online content and software providers to urge Members of the European Parliament to strengthen rules on net neutrality, ahead of a crucial vote in the European Parliament (on 24/2) on the draft Single Telecoms Package Regulation.

The proposed Single Telecoms Package aims to enshrine the principle of net neutrality in EU law. However, the provisions in the current text would also give considerable freedom to Internet Service Providers to provide ‘specialised’, bandwidth-hungry services on closed networks running alongside the Open Internet.

The position of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) was shared at a debate in the European Parliament on Internet, Innovation and Economic Growth with event hosts MEPs Sabine Verheyen, Amelia Andersdotter and Marietje Schaake.
As key industry stakeholders, the EBU and CCIA support net neutrality – the principle that Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat equivalent types of Internet data equally, whatever their source, content or destination.

BBC Head of International Policy Daniel Wilson spoke on behalf of the EBU, and expressed the shared view of European Public Service Media organisations.
“Public Service Media organisations in Europe are committed to an open, transparent and innovative Internet offering strong public and economic value. Ensuring access to our services via the Open Internet is important for the general interest, media pluralism and cultural diversity.”

Referring to the upcoming vote on the Single Telecoms Package Regulation, Wilson added: “The definition of specialised services must be tight and accurate, and distinct from Internet Access Services. It should refer to their end-to-end nature.  Crucially, while we accept the availability of specialised services for those who want to use them, their provision must not be at the material detriment to the quality of the Open Internet. In addition, traffic management measures must be restricted to an exhaustive list of justifications, only to be applied in a transparent, non-discriminatory, proportionate manner.”

Clearly and strictly regulating the operation of specialised services is necessary to ensure that sufficient bandwidth is available for the Open Internet to run smoothly. Hindrances to the Open Internet, which are likely if specialised services take up too much bandwidth, will have an impact on audience capacity to access the Internet content of their choice, as well as restrict competition and innovation in the digital sphere.

Microsoft Director of Policy Jean-Jacques Sahel highlighted why net neutrality is crucial for innovative business models: “Arbitrary restrictions to the use of online apps such as Skype has been a persistent problem. We need to ensure that this stops and that new innovative Internet companies don’t face the same problem. These rules will be economically beneficial to all.”

Swedish Institute of Assistive Technology Project Leader Oskar Jonsson rounded-up the discussions by underlining how net neutrality is crucial for the design and implementation of innovative social care services for the elderly and disabled.

The EBU and the CCIA maintain that it is crucial that these so-called ‘specialised’ services, such as Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) remain an exception and the Open Internet be the norm.

The European Parliament Industry, Research and Energy Committee, which leads discussions on the Single Telecom’s package, will hold a crucial vote on 24 February and has a historic opportunity to set a standard for media freedom and pluralism in the digital age.

The EBU makes the further point that hindrances to the Open Internet, which are likely if specialised services take up too much bandwidth, will have an impact on audience capacity to access the Internet content of their choice, as well as restrict competition and innovation in the digital sphere.

The EBU and the CCIA maintain that it is crucial that these so-called ‘specialised’ services, such as IPTV – a system through which TV services are delivered using a network such as the internet instead of traditional terrestrial and cable formats – remain an exception and the Open Internet be the norm.

The European Parliament Industry, Research and Energy Committee, which leads discussions on the Single Telecom’s package, will hold a crucial vote on 24 February and has a historic opportunity to set a standard for media freedom and pluralism in the digital age.

Posted by on Feb 18 2014. Filed under Articles, Broadband, ISP, Policy, Regulation.

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