I am writing regarding this week's vote on the European Commission's Connected Continent proposal.
If adopted, this will lead to ending roaming charges by end 2015 on voice, text and data, ensure more coherent rules on spectrum allocation, set out the principles of net neutrality in the open internet (no blocking and no throttling), strengthen consumer protection measures and develop innovative communications/telecoms tools for business users.
Regarding Net Neutrality, more specifically, I would like to make sure that decisions are taken based on facts.
Firstly, the Commission proposes clear and strong protection of full access to the open Internet, a ban on blocking of traffic and ban on discrimination against different services or applications. It is clear that all contributors to the discussion are in favour of this strong assertion of the right to access a free and open internet.
However, some have sought to portray specialised services as a serious threat to the open Internet. This is incorrect. Specialised services would only be allowed if they do not impair the Internet. They must be delivered on distinct and additional network capacity – they can’t eat into existing capacity and existing contractually-agreed speeds that you pay for. National regulators will be in charge of upholding net neutrality and policing specialised services – so it cannot be claimed that they will allow Net Neutrality rules to be bypassed.
Specialised services already exist and are unregulated. There is a strong case for specialised services – given their importance in driving innovation and investment in the digital economy, and in providing tailored services that consumers and start-ups expressly ask for. So we must carefully regulate, but not hinder or effectively ban, these specialised services.
If we all agree on the need to end blocking and throttling, and we agree on the need to manage specialised services carefully, then the debate that we are having is about how we achieve this, not about being for or against the open Internet.
So I look forward to a positive outcome to this vote, and thank you in advance for all your support on this important initiative.