EU Panel Approves Net Neutrality Rules

European lawmakers on Thursday approved new rules that aim to assure equal access to the Internet. The new mandates also work to slash smartphone charges in the 28-state European Union.

The EU's Industry Committee has decided that Internet providers should not be able to block, slow down or otherwise hinder Internet services their competitors provide over their networks. The new rules to protect Net neutrality are part of the latest EU telecom package legislation.

Members of the European Parliament (MEP) also voted against so-called cellular roaming charges, which rack up costs for using mobile phones in another country within the European Union. That rule would go into effect on Dec. 15, 2015, giving carriers plenty of time to adjust their practices.

"This vote is the EU delivering for citizens," said Neelie Kroes, the European commissioner responsible for telecommunications. "This is what the EU is all about -- getting rid of barriers to make life easier and less expensive."

What the Rules Mean

In 2012, the EU's Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications reported that several Internet providers were blocking or slowing down bandwidth-hogging services like Skype. That led MEPs to approve strict rules that prevent selective restrictions, which harm consumers.

Under the new rules, companies can still offer higher-quality specialized services, such as video on demand and business-critical data-intensive cloud applications, as long as it does not interfere with the Internet speeds promised to other customers. There is one exception that allows measures to block or slow down the Internet, but only in exceptional cases -- if the move is court ordered.

"With today's Industry Committee vote the European Parliament has taken one great step towards consolidating the telecommunications single market," said Pilar del Castillo Vera, who leads Parliament's work with the package. "The committee has not only proposed abolishing retail roaming charges for...

Comments are closed.