updated 06:10 pm EST, Thu November 11, 2010
EU to revise own net neutrality laws
The European commissioner in charge of telecommunications, Neelie Kroes, on Thursday said the continent will take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to introducing new net neutrality rules. Europe has enough legal safeguards to prevent telephone operators from managing consumer access to the web, the commissioner told the New York Times. As such, the bloc will not be involved in the numerous network neutrality debates ongoing in North America and Europe.
"We have to avoid regulation which might deter investment and an efficient use of the available resources," Kroes said at a net neutrality meeting between the commission and European Parliament.
Carriers increasingly wish to control web traffic on their networks or shift the costs to the biggest users or content providers as video- and file-sharing has grown.
Ms. Kroes promised to work on ensuring a set of 2009 revisions to Europe's main telecommunication law would keep Internet access open and fair. The changes will go into effect in May and require operators to share their network management practices with their customers and prevent operators from blocking or slowing Internet services. Under the current law, regulators have the option of setting minimum levels of broadband service to keep providers from unfairly upselling to costlier packages.
If the rules don't force operators and regulators to cooperate, or operators fail to obey the rules, the European Commission is ready to introduce legal methods that will let consumers quickly switch operators and break their required one- or two-tear contracts, Kroes said.
The official contended that customers shouldn't need to put up with carriers that charge extra for access to, or slow down services such as Skype. Currently, carriers such as France Telecom, Deutsche Telekom and others charge their mobile customers between $14 and $21 extra per month to use VoIP service.