updated 02:46 pm EDT, Tue March 18, 2014
Priority traffic allowed if no other traffic is affected by boost
A group of European Parliament members today voted to give permission to ISPs to prioritize certain kinds of traffic (as specified by the ISP themselves) as long as the prioritization has no impact on other traffic in any way. The decision today allows companies to "offer specialized services of higher quality, such as video on demand and business-critical data-intensive cloud applications, provided that this does not interfere with the Internet speeds promised to other customers" according to the committee.
A wider vote on the entire proposal, which includes provisions to ban roaming charges in the EU, will be held with the entire Parliament on April 3. However, on the subject of Internet restrictions to customers such as blocking competitive services altogether, the decision claims that "measures to block or slow down the Internet would be allowed only in exceptional cases," such as "where specifically ordered by a court."
The move is opposed by consumer interest groups, such as the online rights group EDRi. It said that the ruling will result in "the same kind of monopoly that caused high mobile phone charges." It claims that if the result is not voted down by the full European Parliament, then "the result will be a weaker, poorer online environment, to the detriment of European citizens and European innovators."
With regards to the roaming-charge ban within the EU, the European Commission must evaluate "anomalous or abusive usage of retail roaming services" and develop a framework for acceptable charges in such a situation. All provisions of the preliminary vote are scheduled to take place before December 15, 2015, assuming it passes the full Parliament vote.