There has been a long-lasting battle over net neutrality in the European Union. Worries are that Big Telecom will throttle traffic and hold e.g. startups hostage — in order to press them for money, in exchange for giving them access to what can be described as regular Internet services.
All the big telecoms operators replied that they would never do that. So, the EU went along with some seemingly reasonable exceptions in the framework…
The EC has been couching these as “services like IPTV, high-definition videoconferencing or healthcare services like telesurgery” — which it says use the Internet protocol and the same access network but “require a significant improvement in quality or the possibility to guarantee some technical requirements to their end-users”.
This legal framework passed the European Parliament just the other day.
There is demand on the part of providers of content, applications and services to be able to provide electronic communication services other than internet access services, for which specific levels of quality, that are not assured by internet access services, are necessary. Such specific levels of quality are, for instance, required by some services responding to a public interest or by some new machine-to-machine communications services. Providers of electronic communications to the public, including providers of internet access services, and providers of content, applications and services should therefore be free to offer services which are not internet access services and which are optimised for specific content, applications or services, or a combination thereof, where the optimisation is necessary in order to meet the requirements of the content, applications or services for a specific level of quality.
Quickly Deutsche Telecom seized the opportunity…
Writing in a blog post yesterday DT CEO Timotheus Höttges suggests the carrier is preparing to use the provision of specialized services to charge startups for “guaranteed good transmission quality” — arguing this will offer them a way to compete with better resourced rivals, such as large tech platforms like Google.
For smaller companies and startups to have the same access to the Intenet as today (and as Big Business) they would only have to “pay a couple of percent for this in the form of revenue-sharing”.
Until this day, the Internet has been an arena where companies of all sorts and sizes have been able to compete freely on equal terms. The Internet has been free and open for all. Those days of the Internet as a common utility now seems to be over.
Naturally one can argue that carriers can do whatever they want with their net. But with the Internet being a global common infrastructure everything is interconnected and rather complicated.
If big ISP:s starts to throttle and compartmentalize their parts of the network — it will be the end of a free and open Internet as we know it.
And it will be the end of an era of free enterprise for all on a level playing field Internet.
I really hoped that the big carriers would have a reasonable approach to the new EU rules — and only apply exceptions the way they were meant to be applied. But, sadly, the opposite did happen.
I’m all pro free markets. But today, I’m very disappointed with Deutsche Telecom and those carriers who will, no doubt, follow in their steps as this door has now been opened.
For the European Commission and the European Parliament, they just have to realize that they have been royally screwed by the telecoms lobby. However, the EU member states in the Council must be very pleased. They have always represented the interest of their old, ex-monopoly, formerly state-owned telecoms giants.
Update, also read: Deutsche Telekom chief causes uproar over net neutrality »