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Earlier this month the European Parliament (EP) voted to legally protect net neutrality, ensuring that all traffic across the Internet will be treated equally by ISPs without any form of discrimination.

Neil Watson, Head of Service Operations

Neil Watson, Head of Service Operations

MEPs have become increasingly concerned that without such protection, network providers could favour certain types of traffic  and charge the content provider (e.g. BBC for iPlayer)a premium for this whilst throttling traffic from rival content providers – leading to potentially anti-competitive behaviour. Such activities have already been reported among some mobile operators who have allegedly blocked and throttled Skype across their networks. This is obviously bad news for consumers and could restrict future innovation and make market entry more difficult.

Therefore the EP’s news has been welcomed by many net neutrality advocates including La Quadrature du Net, the non-profit association that defends the rights and freedom of citizens on the Internet, who said: “Today’s victory on Net neutrality is the most important one for the protection of freedom online in Europe since the rejection of ACTA in July 2012. The EU Parliament made clear that the Internet commons should be free of corporate capture, and remain a space where freedom of communication and innovation can thrive.”

This opinion was unsurprisingly echoed by the BBC who stated “The open internet remains a key distribution platform for existing offers like BBC iPlayer and innovative new services. New EU laws could help sustain these benefits and be a welcome addition to the safeguards around the successful open internet model in the UK.”

We’ve always supported the concept of net neutrality and also welcome the new EU laws. Like many ISPs, Entanet utilises traffic management to ensure the smooth running of the network but we don’t treat traffic differently depending on its source, therefore we already support net neutrality.

However concerns were raised that without the ability to charge the content providers directly for priority across networks, meaning service providers such as Netflix could keep their costs down, the increasing costs of carrying the highly popular and constantly increasing amount of IP traffic will inevitably be passed on to the broadband end users. However, it’s hard to believe that the protection of net neutrality will be an overriding factor here and even harder to believe that this wouldn’t be inevitable either way.

What will the US think?

Interestingly, the EU’s stance on net neutrality is the complete opposite of the US who have readily allowed network operators to throttle and prioritise different traffic types based on commercial agreements between the operator and content provider. It will be very interesting to see if the EP’s stance has any impact on their current practices.

Have your say!

What do you think about the new law? Do you think net neutrality really ‘needs’ protecting? Do you think we should protect net neutrality or should we adopt a similar approach to the US? We’d love to hear your views so why not leave us a comment below or participate in our latest poll.

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