updated 11:17 am EDT, Thu April 3, 2014
Connected Continent reforms accepted by European Parliament
The European Parliament has voted in favor of reforms to change the way roaming by European carriers is handled, bringing the continent one step closer to eradicating roaming charges. Forming part of a larger "Connected Continent" collection of changes, the vote by law makers also approves new rules to define and protect net neutrality on European connections.
Proposed in September last year, the regulations would seek for the ending of roaming charges by Christmas 2015, an issue the European Commission has been battling with for some time. The full package of reforms will now pass to the next European Parliament for debate and approval later this year, and if accepted it will then move onto the individual countries for a final confirmation and to be set into law.
In a statement focusing on the roaming charges aspect, Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission behind the proposal, claimed consumers "should know what we are buying, we should not be ripped-off, and we should have the opportunity to change our mind. Companies should have the chance to serve all of us, and this regulation makes it easier for them to do that. It's win-win."
The European Parliament
GigaOM notes the proposals had a number of loopholes that worked against the idea of net neutrality when it passed through the final industry committee. A set of amendments were proposed before the vote, preventing Internet service providers from classifying web services as "specialized services," and other similar issues.
Though not all amendments were accepted, definitions of net neutrality and specialized services made it, as well as a point stating that "Providers of Internet access to end-users shall not discriminate between functionally equivalent services and applications." ISPs can still make agreements with service providers to host their servers and give a potentially better service, as Netflix recently started doing with some US providers, but the ISPs will not be permitted to allow this to negatively impact normal Internet traffic.