Arstechnica: EU plans to destroy net neutrality by allowing Internet fast lanes

Posted by Soledad Vega on Tue, 06/30/2015 - 16:16

Unfortunately, and unlike what the mainstream media is reporting, the new EU announcement presents disastrous Net Neutrality rules. 

Article by for Glyn Moody Arstechnica

A two-tier Internet will be created in Europe as the result of a late-night "compromise" between the European Commission, European Parliament and the EU Council. The so-called "trilogue" meeting to reconcile the different positions of the three main EU institutions saw telecom companies gaining the right to offer "specialised services" on the Internet. These premium services will create a fast lane on the Internet and thus destroy net neutrality, which requires that equivalent traffic is treated in the same way.

In a fact sheet on the agreement, the European Commission tries to hide the reality that net neutrality is being destroyed by defining something called the open Internet : "Under today's agreement, paid prioritisation in the open Internet will be banned. Based on this new legislation, all content and application providers will have guaranteed access to end-users in the open Internet. This access should not be dependent on the will or particular commercial interest of Internet service providers."

But running alongside this "open Internet," on the same network, there will be "specialised services," which are not open and where paid prioritisation is permitted: "The new EU net neutrality rules guarantee the open Internet and enable the provision of specialised or innovative services on condition that they do not harm the open Internet access." The caveat is vague, and in practice will not prevent "specialised services" competing with those offered on the "open Internet"—the Commission mentions "internet TV" as an example of a specialised service—so large companies will be able to offer premium services at attractive prices, which startups with limited resources will find hard to match.

The Commission is aware of that threat to fair competition. In its press release, it says the new rules will mean that "access to a start-up's website will not be unfairly slowed down to make the way for bigger companies." However, this only applies to its newly-defined "open Internet," where all traffic must be treated fairly. It does not apply to specialised services, which will be able to pay telecoms companies for faster delivery than rivals on the "open Internet." Inevitably, this tilts the playing field in favour of established players with deeper pockets.

The Commission's main argument for introducing "specialised services" is to encourage new offerings: "more and more innovative services require a certain transmission quality in order to work properly, such as telemedicine or automated driving." But it would be unwise to run these kinds of critical services over a connection that was also running traditional Internet services: instead, a dedicated connection used only for that service would be needed. In that case, prioritisation and net neutrality would not be an issue because it would not be used for anything else.

- Read more at Arstechnica