Neelie Kroes the Vice President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda has made a speech outlining her views on how the EU can guarantee competition to encourage innovation and ensure that people get what they pay for.
"And yet it's clear to me there are problems in today's internet. The 2011 study by European regulators (through BEREC) showed that, for many Europeans, online services are blocked or degraded – often without their knowledge. For around one in five fixed lines, and over one in three mobile users. It is obvious that this impacts consumers, but start-ups also suffer. Because they lack certainty about whether their new bright ideas will get a fair chance to compete in the market.
Plus, many other Europeans aren't getting the speeds or quality they paid for. This is a basic principle that applies in other consumer markets – it should apply to internet access too.
In parallel we are seeing the pressure for national action on net neutrality. The telecoms single market is far from complete – and a failure to take coordinated action on net neutrality would shatter the fragile construction. If we don't address net neutrality, wider problems will arise and tomorrow's innovative services might have to stop at the border."Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda
Extract from speech: The EU, safeguarding the open internet for all
Many people hear about the net neutrality debate and think it means an end to traffic management, but that is not the case as Neelie Kroes still sees a place for it if it is managing traffic at peak times, but much more needs to be done across Europe to make consumers aware of what management is in place on a service. The biggest issue is where a service provider blocks a protocol/service totally, for example Skype is blocked on some mobile networks in various countries around Europe.
For the UK a good few of the points are already happening, for example being given a speed estimate for a service at the time of signing the contract and providers listing key metrics on traffic management. A key part seems to be people should get what they pay for, so this raises the question as to what level of internet people expect when they pay just a pound or two each month, compared to someone who pays £25 per month.