With the majority of Internet traffic expected to shift to congestion-prone mobile networks, there is growing debate on both sides of the Atlantic about whether operators of the networks should be allowed to treat Web users differently, based on the users’ consumption.
In Brussels, the European commissioner for the digital agenda, Neelie Kroes, plans to hold a public consultation on net neutrality this summer, which could lead to a push for new laws or regulations for operators.
Earlier this year, Ms. Kroes warned mobile operators not to block or hinder Internet voice services like Skype from their networks.
As data traffic levels rise, some executives, like César Alierta, the chairman and chief executive of the Spanish operator Telefónica, and Vittorio Colao, the Vodafone chief executive, have floated the idea of charging not only customers but also Web sites that generate lots of data traffic, like Google, Amazon and Facebook, for faster, guaranteed service.
Web businesses, which depend on fast Internet paid for by individual customers, oppose the idea and have been pushing lawmakers in Brussels and Washington to adopt restrictions preventing operators from making deals with content providers.