Dutch minister says telcos ‘risking internet’ by traffic charging

Dutch minister says telcos ‘risking internet’ by traffic charging

Micky Adriaansens.jpg

The government of the Netherlands has set its face against lobbying by giant telcos to charge for internet usage.

In a hard-hitting statement this morning, Micky Adriaansens (pictured), minister for Economic Affairs and Climate, accuses telcos of omitting crucial information and misrepresenting facts.

The government, in a statement on its website, says such a strategy “poses considerable risks to the internet ecosystem and is likely to cause considerable harm to European consumers and businesses, and impeding European digitalisation”.

Adriaansens cites a report its Ministry of Economic Affairs has commissioned from the economic consultancy Oxera. It says this is “a critical report regarding the fitness of the plans to promote network investments and its impact. It’s imperative that any policy affecting the Internet ecosystem is evidence-based and putting the consumer first.”

The outspoken statement follows in the wake of statements such as that by Margrethe Vestager, European commissioner for competition, who is understood to want to merge telecoms operators across the EU market of 27 countries to only “five to 10”.

But at the same time the government warns that “formerly state-owned telecom providers, represented by the European association ETNO” [European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association], are lobbying to end the European Open Internet regulation of 2015.

Adriaansens, who is a member of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, a conservative-liberal party, says that without a levy on traffic “they will not be able to make sufficient network investments.

“The Netherlands has been an advocate for the open internet, and has been strongly committed to adopt European legislation to ensure all telecom operators would not discriminate between internet traffic and prevent telecom operators from blocking, delaying or charging certain internet traffic,” says the statement from The Hague.

“For several reasons the Netherlands is very critical towards this [ETNO] plea. In the first place the large telecom operators have not been able to point out what the actual problem is. Secondly, even if there would be an investment issue, the solution of a toll charge would not be an effective instrument to promote additional network investments,” says Adriaansens.

Her report notes: “In addition there is room for considerable doubt whether such a levy would not violate net neutrality.”

And, says the report, “the current debate is framed as a battle between telecom operators and online service providers, whereas the debate should really be centred around the interests of consumers and businesses”.


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