26 June 2015
We express our concerns regarding the current state of play on the Telecom Single Market negotiations, and specifically as regards the Net Neutrality provisions.
While we appreciate the Council’s most recent draft provisions we are concerned that the outcome of the upcoming trilogue negotiation might prevent the European cable industry from functioning as the backbone for digital products and services of the future as set out by the Commission’s Digital Single Market Strategy.
The Open Internet provisions in the TSM must take into account the technological realities that are crucial for the correct functioning of the networks. These provisions should acknowledge how the networks really work and give a proportionate legal response to the current market situation. This is why we support the Council’s position regarding the allowance of reasonable traffic management measures to avoid congestion of the network.
Since its inception the internet is able to treat data packets according to their specific requirements, such as, for example, time sensitivity. Rather than mandating that all traffic be treated equally, the focus should be on ensuring that traffic falling into the same category is handled on an equitable basis. Conversely, when we look at internet traffic management, treating a video packet the same way as an email packet is inappropriate. Instead, what should be assured is that the traffic management performed by Internet Service Providers treats the same type of traffic identically.
We also believe that there is no sound basis for the introduction of over-prescriptive rules regarding specialised services. Specialised services are key to the future development of innovative digital applications, many of which will require a specific quality of service where end-to-end quality must be assured, and which many consumers would welcome as subscription options. BEREC’s most recent study1, which examines the value consumers place upon net neutrality, clearly illustrates that the perceived problems which the TSM revisions are trying to address are significantly overstated. According to BEREC, consumers are willing to subscribe to differentiated services, provided transparency rules are in place. We therefore support the Councils draft definition of specialized services and the provision that specialized services shall not be to the detriment of the availability or general quality of internet access services for other end-users. This approach is adequately open, future-proof and won’t restrict customers’ choice.
The position taken by the European Parliament so far that there must be no impact on internet access services at all would result in banning specialised services. This is hugely damaging; not only does this prevent innovation but it also stops operators from dynamically managing resources across their networks – building bigger networks where the resources can be shared between all services rather than private networks restricted to specific services.
We call on the European Institutions to reach a compromise that is technically sound and proportionate to current market situations and future market developments. Failure to do so risks that European networks cannot be managed efficiently, that innovation will be stifled, and that forward investment will be disincentivised. This will be in direct contradiction to the stated goals of a Digital Europe at the forefront of the global economy.