EU Postpones Further Net Neutrality Action For Now

BY CCIA Staff
November 12, 2010

European regulators said Thursday the EU, many of whose member states already have rules to prevent network operators from discriminating against other Internet access providers, would not enact additional rules on net neutrality for now.

Europe already has more extensive regulation of last mile broadband access than does the United States, and competition among providers is also much greater.

The following comments can be attributed to CCIA Executive Vice President Erika Mann:

“The announcement is not surprising as the telecom landscape is very different in Europe. Europe already has regulations. Consumers have the right to send and receive the information of their choice and there are already rules that provide transparency about network management techniques used to manage Internet traffic.

“Europe has generally been fairly vigilant at monitoring consumer rights and competition policy issues like this and we trust that they will jump in if they see a problem with neutral Internet access in the future.

“This issue has not been as controversial and even as debated in the EU because we don’t have the same potential problems as the United States as smaller carriers are already guaranteed nondiscriminatory access to the last mile connecting service to Internet users.”

The following comments can be attributed to CCIA Vice President Cathy Sloan:

“EU member states such as France and the UK already have nondiscrimination safeguards that are much stricter than the so-called Third Way approach proposed by our FCC.

“What is ironic is that major U.S. carriers who are now in the EU market depend on nondiscriminatory access to the last mile to be able to offer service in Europe and these same carriers have successfully opposed any requirement that they sell wholesale access to small carriers here. If they would allow the same rules they benefit from in Europe to be applied here, the net neutrality debate here could largely subside.

“The need for more clearly defined open Internet rules is not as critical in Europe as it is here. While cable broadband access is less prevalent there, the EU has hundreds of telecom Internet Access Providers competing for business because those who own the “pipes” have to offer nondiscriminatory access to the last mile to other carriers.“No one should take this news in Europe as any indication that all is well in the United States too. Instead, they should look at concerns still being expressed by Europeans this week that any moves to charge Internet content providers to pay more for faster service amounts to a tax on innovation. If they are wary of taxing innovation, it would be wise for us to be as well.”

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