Civil society and telecom industry urge EU policy makers to safeguard broadband competition
Hosting an event at the European Parliament, the #NetCompetition alliance restated the dangers that a lack of competition in broadband markets will have on consumer welfare and innovation. The event highlighted the problematic practices that broadband providers in monopolistic and oligopolistic markets impose on Internet data usage.
Hosted by MEP Lara Comi, the event featured a presentation by Sarah Morris, from the New America Foundation, on the ruinous effect that deregulation has had for US broadband consumers. For example, 75% of US families do not have any choice when purchasing 25 Mbps broadband services. This induces dominant Internet access providers to impose restrictive data usage policies.
#NetCompetition members Altroconsumo and European Digital Rights (EDRi) warned that allowing an abusive use of data caps and problematic practices such as zero-rating will negatively affect consumers, shaping their browsing patterns, and pushing them to limit the time spent on the Internet. This will prevent users, especially more vulnerable individuals, from fully benefiting of the digital society and ultimately erect barriers for innovation.
Marco Pierani from Altroconsumo said:
A lot is at stake with the review of the EU’s telecoms legislation.
The EU must not throw away years of successful liberalisation of telecom networks and facilitate the creation of new monopolies. In today’s world of hyper connectedness, freedom of expression and consumer choice necessitate efficient broadband competition.
This event – also featuring MEP Marietje Schaake, the European Commission and the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Comminications (BEREC) – is the first organised by the #NetCompetition alliance, a “unique broadband stakeholder group” that is committed to highlight the risks for end-users that derive from a reduction of broadband choice.
#NetCompetition includes consumer and digital rights organisations, business user groups, network operators, internet service providers, content and application providers and platforms. The alliance was launched in November last year and it has since kept growing. The alliance now also includes the largest European provider of global hosting services, Leaseweb; the European Broadband Award winner CAI Harderwijk, the Belgian Consumer Association Test-Achats/Test-Aankoop, the Norwegian Consumer Council Forbrukerradet, and the Greek consumer organisation KEPKA.
These recent additions to the #NetCompetition line-up will support the message to the European Institutions that a competitive broadband market is needed to ensure ultra-fast, innovative and affordable internet access to businesses, consumers and European society at large.
More info at www.savenetcompetition.eu
Note: #NetCompetition promotes a set of principles (PDF)