EU action could mean higher broadband tariffs

A new Centre for European Policy Studies paper, due to be published this week, says the US net neutrality model could have many drawbacks for European consumers, The Guardian reports.

The principle of network neutrality is that all internet content should be treated equally. In the US, Comcast has found itself under attack from consumer groups and censured by the Federal Communications Commission for blocking traffic, such as BitTorrent streaming. It claims this was to manage traffic to ensure all customers receive good quality service.

Now the European report argues that average users would end up paying more, in effect subsidising heavy users if net neutrality is adopted here. It also reckons service providers would lack any motivation to upgrade their infrastructure, while application and content providers would be the winners.

The paper is to be published before a conference in Venice this week involving Viviane Reding, the European Commissioner for information society and media, the heads of telcos and cable companies from around the world.

The Guardian cites Industry sources that claim Reding, MEPs and Nicolas Sarkozy's French presidency of the EU had opened the back door to net neutrality by suggesting amendments to the universal service directive.

Observers insist this would allow national regulators to set minimum quality of service requirements to prevent 'degradation' of service or slowing of traffic over networks.

Net neutrality is also due to be discussed by the EU's 27 telecoms ministers next month when they finalise legislation designed to improve regulation, encourage investment and offer broadband coverage to all of Europe's 500 million citizens.

See here for the full story on the Centre for European Policy Studies paper.