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June 14, 2011

Net Neutrality Set to Become Law in the Netherlands

By John Lahtinen, Community Development Editor, TMCnet



Responding to an ever-increasing practice by telecommunications companies of charging their customers for services like Skype (News - Alert) and WhatsApp, the Netherlands is set to enact net neutrality laws forcing carriers to guarantee access to all web content and applications equally.

On the heels of last week’s near unanimous vote by the Dutch Parliament in support of the new law, the Dutch House of Representatives was expected to overwhelmingly vote in favor of the law in a vote today.

The Netherlands would become the first European country to enact net neutrality into law.

European Commissioner Neelie Kroes has spearheaded the movement to legislate against Internet providers who want to charge more for using particular applications or services which compete with their offerings.

“Mark my words: if measures to enhance competition are not enough to bring Internet providers to offer real consumer choice, I am ready to prohibit the blocking of lawful services or applications. It’s not OK for Skype and other such services to be throttled,” Kroes told Ars Technica.

Recently, Kroes seemed to pull back a bit saying she wants to wait for the conclusions from BEREC, the workgroup of the European telecom regulators, which began investigating the mobile broadband market in April.

But, even as the legislation was moving through the pipeline and gaining momentum with lawmakers, telecommunications providers were making attempts to bypass the proposed new rules.

KPN, a Dutch telecommunications company, struggling to compete with the likes of Facebook (News - Alert), Twitter, and Instant Messaging, moved forward with a plan to charge its customers extra for using VoIP, streaming video, and sending instant messages. KPN (News - Alert) admitted it was using deep packet inspection to monitor all Internet activity, and then classify it by application so as to make the charge-for-service scheme work. Vodophone has admitted to using deep packet inspection as well.

If enacted, what effect will this legislation have on consumers?

“There is not so much a positive effect on telco-telco competition; the effect will be more visible for consumers. They will have unrestricted access to the next Google (News - Alert)/Facebook/WhatApp, without having to pay a fee to the telco,” Alex de Joode, security officer of LeaseWeb, told TMCnet.

“That said, any new telco would only need to offer ‘data pipe’ managed services like ‘SMS and Voice’ which can be offered ‘online’ with an ‘online’ pricepoint (calls are 1 cent a minute and an sms is 1 cent), this would put the pressure on the incumbents to transition and adapt to the new market landscape.”

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John Lahtinen is Community Development Editor for TMCnet. He has more than 15 years of combined professional and educational experience involving news, education, and marketing. John holds a master's degree in journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and a bachelor's degree in English from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell


 
 
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