Good news for European holidaymakers yesterday, as the European Commission revealed plans to eliminate mobile roaming charges across its member countries by June 2017. More controversial, though, are the EC’s new proposals on net neutrality that were announced alongside it. On the surface, it protects net neutrality: “Under today’s agreement, paid prioritisation in the open Internet will be banned. Based on this new legislation, all content and application providers will have guaranteed access to end-users in the open Internet,” claimed the EC.
There’s a big but coming: the new rules will also “enable the provision of specialised or innovative services on condition that they do not harm the open Internet access”. In other words, some services will be able to pay telcos for faster / better transmission quality still. The EC painted this as essential for services “such as telemedicine or automated driving”, which is a fair point, but there are also implications for online entertainment: video services like Netflix most obviously, but also streaming music too as its quality gets better. With huge grey areas around the ruling though, these implications will take time to emerge.