Europe set for net neutrality vote this week

01 April 2014 | Kavit Majithia


Europe is set to vote on whether telecoms operators can charge content providers to deliver services at faster speeds, which could restrict how much revenue operators can make from over-the-top application providers.

If the proposals are passed, it will go against net neutrality law – the idea that internet service providers should treat traffic equally, regardless of source or content – which is the present EU law across 28 countries.

The laws will also set restrictions on which type of online services internet providers can charge extra for, and the European Parliament will vote on Thursday over the proposals.

Lawmakers in Europe are looking to pass consumer-friendly measures for the industry, as many representatives in the European Union are facing election in May.

Courts in the US rejected federal laws on net neutrality in January, after Verizon Communications challenged the ruling. If the proposals are rejected in Europe, it would represent another blow to European operators, which are facing five consecutive years of revenue decline.

Operators are fighting for a share of the profits from bandwidth-hungry services after the deal between Netflix and US broadband operator Comcast, to offer free connections to content companies, threw the net neutrality debate wide open.

Telecoms companies are arguing that they should be able to charge content companies for different services and speeds as a way to ensure continued investment in their network and service upgrades.

Watch out for Capacity’s cover story on net neutrality in the April/May issue.