In the same week that Telefónica introduced its new TU Me app to challenge over-the-top players, the Dutch Senate passed net neutrality fully into law, thus concluding a process that was sparked by OTT mobile apps such as WhatsApp.
It's taken just a year to introduce and pass law that is still causing headaches for politicians and regulators across the globe. The Netherlands is the first country in Europe to introduce net neutrality, and only the second country globally after Chile. (The Federal Communications Commission of the United States passed net neutrality rules in December 2010 but those have been challenged in court by operators Verizon Wireless and MetroPCS.)
As has been well documented, the Dutch parliament added net neutrality provisions to its telecommunications law last year following attempts by Dutch incumbent operator KPN to make users pay extra for using third-party apps over its 3G network. This move created a backlash that now means that companies providing access to the Internet have to treat all Internet services equally.
KPN made its ill-fated move as a direct result of the impact it believed apps such as WhatsApp and Skype were having on its revenues from text services, thus underlying the cannibalisation effects of VoIP services for mobile operators.
Spain's Telefónica Digital this week sought to redress the balance by introducing a communications app, TU Me, which will allow users to make VoIP calls, send messages and share photos. Since then, the company has also been forced to give assurances that it is still committed to Joyn, the consumer brand of the GSMA-led Rich Communication Suite (RCS), which is based on IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) technology.
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