[FT] Telecoms groups blast EU Net Neutrality plans

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European telecoms groups have criticised proposals that would stop them prioritising higher speed or guaranteed access internet services to be voted on by the European parliament this week.

Etno, the telecoms industry body, has sent a letter criticising amendments to so-called net neutrality regulations that aim to protect the freedom of internet access. The joint letter has been sent to the draftswoman of the proposals as well as Neelie Kroes, the European commissioner for the digital agenda.

Ms Kroes will meet chief executives from the largest telecoms groups in the industry on Monday to discuss their concerns about the over-regulation of the sector. […]

Telecoms groups have in the past “throttled” certain bandwidth hogging services such as Youtube and have made a business out of offering higher speed internet to users or guaranteed services to companies.

The letter from Etno said that establishing such principles would affect the provision of specialist services such as telemedicine or e-education, as well as internet provision that can be sold for services such as Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) for business, IP-TV, gaming online and teleconferencing.

Etno also said that the proposed text could introduce restrictions on how traffic was managed on networks.

“This would make an effective management of the network almost unworkable,” it said. “The changes foreseen in the area of open internet, together with the revenue-depressing measures in the area of roaming and the additional layers of regulation for wholesale access products, would result in an unprecedented burden on the EU telecoms sector.”

Luigi Gambardella, Etno chairman, said: “[Monday’s] vote risks derailing the original objectives of the connected continent regulation. If the changes to the open internet provisions are confirmed in the final text approved, the European digital economy will suffer and EU businesses will be put in a difficult competitive situation with respect to other areas of the world.”

The commission wants to agree the proposals before the European elections. If no deal is likely, this will carry through to the next parliament.