EU net neutrality plan coming

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European Union Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes announced that she will soon introduce proposals to the EU College of Commissioners that will prevent Internet service providers in Europe from blocking customers' access to competitors' services.

For one in five Europeans using fixed lines and one in three mobile users, online services are blocked or degraded, sometimes without the customers' knowledge, said Kroes during a June 4 speech before the EU Parliament in Brussels.

"Plus, many other Europeans aren't getting the speeds or quality they paid for," said Kroes.

A net neutrality mandate that would prevent the throttling of competitive services is gaining support across Europe, she said.

"If we don't address net neutrality, wider problems will arise and tomorrow's innovative services might have to stop at the border," said Kroes.

She said Europeans expect protection against these commercial tactics, and an EU safeguard will guarantee access to the "full and open internet, without any blocking or throttling of competing services."

Kroes did say there are instances where ISPs manage traffic for legitimate and objective reasons, such as "separating time-critical traffic from the less urgent" or protecting customers from spam.

But ISPs need to invest in network capacity to meet rising demand, and they must be allowed to innovate to better serve varied customer needs--from those who want occaissionally check email to high-bandwidth users who constantly watch videos on their tablets, said Kroes.  

Her plan aims to protect consumers while offering choice, offer ISPs incentives to upgrade infrastructure, and safeguard the open internet, said Kroes.

For more:
- read a transcript of Kroes' speech

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