European Commission plan to end roaming charges and establish net neutrality rules – EC Single Telecoms Package
Hot in from the ITSPA (Internet Telephony Service Providers Association) secretariat is this commentary: Late last night the European Commission, Council and Parliament concluded their final round of negotiations on the Single Telecoms Package. The key parts of this initiative are a plan to end mobile roaming charges and the establishment of net neutrality rules.
With regard to net neutrality, the following principles have been agreed to:
- All traffic to be treated equally with no blocking, throttling, degradation or discrimination of Internet traffic and also no paid prioritisation.
- There are a limited number of exceptions to the general net neutrality rule:
- compliance with legislation related to the lawfulness of content or with criminal law;
- preservation of the security and integrity of the network (malware, DOS);
- minimising network congestion that is temporary or exceptional; and
- spam and parental control filters (with prior request, consent and possibility to withdraw consent)
- The provision of specialised services is allowed as long as this does not harm general open internet access. Specialised services are services that require technical requirements which cannot be ensured in the best-effort open Internet.
- Zero-rating of traffic will be allowed, but regulatory authorities will have to monitor and ensure compliance with net neutrality rules.
- National regulatory authorities will be tasked to monitor and enforce open Internet rules and will be empowered to set minimum quality of service requirements on Internet access providers.
ITSPA has published a press release welcoming the news which can be viewed here. In summary, we are pleased with the news and have supported the Latvian Presidency of the European Council’s work on the subject which has found a compromise which balances Open Internet principles with an approach that ensures that the Internet can still be run in an effective manner.
ITSPA has campaigned on this subject – particularly the practice of mobile VoIP applications being blocked by network operators for anti-competitive reasons (which will now be prohibited) – for approximately two years at both EU and UK level. The announcement should be considered a great achievement for ITSPA.
The new rules are expected to come into force in early 2016.
PS we can particularly look forward to the end of the mobile data roaming ripoff.