Tag Archives: Neelie Kroes

Is the European Commission about to kill Net Neutrality?

The latest draft of a proposal by the European Commission gets defenders of net neutrality up in arms. End of May Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission, has sent out a tweet urging her followers to back her in defending #netneutrality


But according to the German blog Netzpolitik.org that dug into the latest draft of a regulation that aims to

lay down measures to complete the European single market for electronic communications and to achieve a Connected Continent

quite the opposite is the case. If the draft would pass as is in the European parliament and became a law, net neutrality as it is defined today would be dead in the European Union.

In case you are not familiar with the concept of net neutrality:

Net neutrality (also network neutrality or Internet neutrality) is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication. (Wikipedia)

Under the proposed regulation Internet service providers could probably cut deals among themselves and also offer different data plans to their customers, treating services differently. For example French Internet provider Orange could throttle down the data packages of YouTube and deliver videos from Dailymotion (in which Orange has around 40% stake) faster. All of that would be OK, it just needed to be mentioned in the terms of service.

This way big brands like Google, Yahoo or Microsoft could cut a deal with Internet service providers to speed up their services, killing competition with faster results and quicker loading times which of course would make it very difficult for smaller competitors to gain traction. It is basically a death sentence for innovation as Tagesschau titled its report on the issue.

So instead of helping the consumer as proposed in the draft this regulation would eventually hurt us by making the Internet less competitive.

And it is bad for the education (startup) space as well. New trends like MOOCs are relying heavily on streamed videos or other bandwidth heavy features. With net neutrality down the drain Internet service providers could bully those kind of services into paying an extra fee, or else…

Interestingly we already see emerging partnerships of Internet service providers and education startups in which the products are bundled into the data plans. And under the proposed regulation this business model would be basically a must for education startups that plan to use a lot of bandwidth. A good way for Internet service providers to make money from both sides, the education provider paying for fast data delivery and the student paying for fast data reception. A real progress for the consumer and Europe as a whole.

Further reading:

Picture by click via Morguefile