The EU just killed net neutrality in Europe

The European Parliament has voted against a set of regulations designed to preserve the idea of net neutrality in Europe, which is likely to mean the development of a “two speed” internet where companies can pay more in order to get their traffic to customers faster.

This means that content providers could potentially strike deals with ISPs which give their traffic preferential treatment. For example, this might mean a company like Netflix could do a deal with BT to speed up delivery of their video content – leaving smaller competitors at a disadvantage unless they also invested money with BT.

There’s no indication at this point that either content providers or networks are actively exploring deals like this, but – unlike in the US – the EU has effectively opened the door for these kinds of agreements to be struck.

Although campaigners have cautioned against this potential “two speed” internet, it may mean some positive things for end users. For example, mobile networks could have agreements with video content companies which allow their customers to access bandwidth-hungry video content without incurring data usage on their plans. 

However, in a statement, Sir Tim Berners-Lee said that “to underpin continued economic growth and social progress, Europeans deserve the same strong net neutrality protections similar to those recently secured in the United States.” MEPs have, effectively, ignored this by voting against these amendments.

In the US, net neutrality has become such a hot topic that it’s spread into the popular consciousness, with “explainers” on the subject from the likes of John Oliver.

On a more positive note, the European Parliament did pass new rules which should mean an end to roaming charges on mobiles, as noted by Andrus Ansip, European Commission vice-president for the digital single market: 

This wasn’t, however, enough to please many people:

NEXT: Berners-Lee shoots BT down in flame over net neutrality.

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