updated 02:50 pm EDT, Wed June 22, 2011
Follows US into protecting Internet access
The Netherlands has become the first European country to embrace network neutrality. Dutch lawmakers have passed legislation that prevents the nation's Internet service providers from charging customers extra for, or blocking access to, online-based services such as Skype. To date, the US is the only other country to have enacted net neutrality provisions.
Consumer advocates hailed the legislature as opening up communications. Like their counterparts in the US, Dutch carriers quickly denounced the law, threatening that it could result in higher rates. “We regret that the Dutch parliament didn’t take more time to consider this,” said Patrick Nickolson, a spokesman for KPN, the largest in the country. "This will limit our ability to develop a new portfolio of tariffs and there is at least the risk of higher prices, because our options to differentiate will now be more limited."
Under the legislation, providers can still charge subscribers like they do on wired Internet access, based on download speeds and service levels. They would not, however, be able to charge based on specific content. In the US, MetroPCS has been unofficially accused of violating the new neutrality rules by blocking Netflix for those who don't pay for the most expensive tier of service.
Fines for violating the new law could cost a service provider as much as ten percent of its annual sales. [via New York Times]