European Commission's Net Neutrality report

By EDRi · April 20, 2011

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [Bericht der Europäischen Kommission zur Netzneutralität |]

The European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes presented on
19 April 2011 its report on net neutrality, which brings nothing significant
to the table, except strengthening the “wait and see” approach already
presented at the Net Neutrality Summit in November last year.

The Commission’s report is already confirming the unequal treatment of
Internet traffic, quoting the results of the survey made by BEREC (Body of
European Regulators for Electronic Communications) in early 2010 in several
EU member states:

– Limits on the speed of peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing or video streaming
by certain providers in France, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland and the
United Kingdom;

– Blocking or charging extra for the provision of voice over internet
protocol (VoIP) services in mobile networks by certain mobile operators in
Austria, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Romania.

However, the decision by Kroes is not to act, but to wait: “Together with
national telecoms regulators, the Commission will spend 2011 closely looking
at current market practices. At the end of 2011, I will present the findings
and will publicly name operators engaging in doubtful practices.”

And even if something is wrong, the problems will be related just to
the correct information of the consumer: “I will be looking particularly
closely for any instances of unannounced blocking or throttling of certain
types of traffic, and any misleading advertising of broadband speeds. If I
am not satisfied that consumers can counteract such practices by switching
providers, I will not hesitate to introduce more stringent measures.”

In fact the report itself praises the violations of the net neutrality
principles, by supporting operators’ claims:
“It is widely accepted that network operators need to adopt some traffic
management practices to ensure an efficient use of their networks and that
certain IP services, such as for instance real-time IPTV and video
conferencing, may require special traffic management to ensure a predefined
high quality of service”.

La Quadrature du Net has been quick in qualifying the report as
disappointing. Jérémie Zimmermann explained:
“Mrs Kroes hides behind false free-market arguments to do nothing at all,
pretending that competition and consumer law can successfully address the
issue. In most Member States, mobile phone operators agree on engaging in
the very same discriminations in their so-called ‘mobile Internet’ offers.
These operators simply do not offer access to the universal platform of
communications we call ‘the Internet’. By turning a blind eye on these
practices, the Commission covers anti-competitive behaviours that hinder
innovation and violate users’ freedom of communication.”

Neelie Kroes European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda :The
internet belongs to all of us. Press conference on Net Neutrality
Communication Brussels (19.04.2011)

Commission Communication: The open internet and net neutrality in Europe

Net Neutrality: The European Commission Gives Up on Users and Innovators

EDRi-gram: ENDitorial: Net neutrality – wait and see the end of the open
Internet (17.11.2010)