“Net-neutrality” debate and investigation starting off in Europe

net neutralityThe subject of network neutrality is back on track and will continue rolling until the future of our internet will be decided.

European Union is going to investigate whether internet service providers are providing fair access to online services, joining Canada, US and UK in its quest to regulate the situation.

Network neutrality in Canada was and is a hotly debated issue. Generally, in Canada, ISP provide internet in a neutral manner, some notable exceptions being Bell Canada’s, Eastlink’s and Rogers Hi-Speed Internet’s throttling of certain protocols and Telus censorship of a specific website critical of the company. This subject became more important, when in 2005 Telus has blocked access to labour union blogs during an employee strike. This lead to the update of Telecommunications Policy Objectives and Regulation and in 2008, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission  scheduled a review of the internet traffic management of ISPs and is still in the review process.

network neutrality The principle of network neutrality advocates no restrictions by Internet Service providers and governments on content, sites, platforms, the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and the modes of communication.

However, this principle is far from being respected and is touching Europe. According to Neelie Kroes, the EU’s commissioner for the digital agenda, there are issues that need to addressed. She announced this action and said “I am absolutely determined that everyone in the EU should have the chance to enjoy the benefits of an open and lawful internet, without hidden restrictions or slower speeds than they have been promised”.

Notably, an unnamed UK provider was reportedly making “Skype calls technically impossible in afternoons and evenings without warning the users.” And this is widely known shortfall for many users of voice and video communication solutions and services that rely on wider and faster bandwidth to provide their service to customers. She also pointed to reports that some internet providers were slowing video-streaming services network neutralityprovided by a competitor.

Net neutrality campaigners in Europe don’t mind traffic management for better and quality service of the internet in whole, but what they oppose is to the prioritisation of one content sites over others on the paying basis. Consumers don’t want the internet, that is supposed to be free and open source, to be taken over by commercial sites that pay and therefore affecting the ISP to choose and funnel people’s attention – impacing not only which sites they can see, but theu buying behaviours. Unlike other sources of information, like TV, radio, newspapers – the internet is seen as an open space and no way should be controlled and manipulated, as some ISP doing so now in Europe.

This investigation will cover both mobile and fixed providers. It will also ask businesses and consumers to highlight shortcomings, and if the findings indicate “outstanding problems” they will assess further measures.

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