Kroes over netwerkneutraliteit

Eurocommissaris voor de Digitale Agenda Neelie Kroes heeft vandaag een speech gehouden over netwerkneutraliteit in Europa. De speech heeft zij gehouden voor de Franse ARCEP (L'Autorité de Régulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes).

Allereerst zet ze nog eens kort op een rijtje welke angsten (Big Brother; wie moet internet besturen) en wensen (betalen voor extensief gebruik van het netwerk; gedifferentieerde niveaus van dienstverlening) bestaan in het debat omtrent netneutraliteit. Hieruit zou blijken dat er geen heldere antwoorden zijn op de vraag wat netneutraliteit bestaat, en überhaupt wat het zou moeten betekenen. Wel zou duidelijk zijn dat elke partij weet dat het internet geen inherent neutraal platform is. Er zijn keuzes die gemaakt moeten worden. Daarvan somt Kroes er vier op:

"1. Should internet providers be allowed to prioritise one kind of internet usage of another? (for instance delaying peer-to-peer applications). And should they be able to charge for that?

2. Are transparency rules on traffic management sufficient to solve possible issues?

3. Would the bottlenecks and other problems disappear if we manage to foster investment in new and open networks?

4. Would regulation promoting more infrastructure competition be reason enough to bring a lighter touch to net neutrality?"

De gevolgen van deze keuzes zijn volgens Kroes (nog) niet duidelijk. Wel is duidelijk dat ze een groot effect zullen hebben op ons dagelijks leven. Het debat in Europa over netneutraliteit is nog jong. Op potentiële problemen moet worden geanticipeerd, maar dat betekent niet dat door overhaastige regelgeving moet worden ingegrepen. Een vergelijking met de VS is volgens Kroes wenselijk:

"In 2005, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) of the United States outlined four principles to encourage broadband deployment and preserve the open and interconnected nature of the public internet. These were rights for consumers: to access lawful internet content of their choice; to run applications and services of their choice, to connect devices of their choice and to have competition.

I can fully subscribe to these principles."

Daarnaast stelt de FCC nu nog twee andere beginselen voor: transparantie en non-discriminatie. Non-discriminatie wordt door sommigen uitgelegd als het beperken van telecom operators in hun keuze om commerciële betalingen te vragen of overeenkomsten aan te gaan met aanbieders van content voor diensten die veel capaciteit in beslag nemen van het netwerk, of een bepaald niveau van dienstverlening vereisten. De problemen die daarmee gemoeid zijn moeten volgens Kroes eerst goed worden onderzocht voordat de EU met een regelgevend antwoord komt.

Verder wijst Kroes op een aantal punten, opgenomen in de nieuwe telecom-regelgeving van 2009, die relevant zijn voor het debat over netneutraliteit:

"First, under the new framework, National Regulatory Authorities are required to promote “the ability of end-users to access and distribute information or run applications and services of their choice”. This sets a very important principle for net neutrality, as it recognises and safeguards the basic freedoms of internet users.

Secondly, our new framework explicitly foresees the possibility for National Regulatory Authorities, after consulting the Commission, to set minimum quality of service requirements if there is a problem. This should ensure that traffic management and possible prioritisation does not lead to degradation of content and services provided by non-commercial actors or by new entrants. In that respect, I would also like to underline that we are developing a strong broadband policy to promote, in particular, investment in new generation networks which will allow the provision of very high quality services.Furthermore we have launched a public consultation on universal service which  addresses the question of whether universal service has a role in advancing broadband coverage.

Thirdly, our new framework provides strong transparency measures to ensure consumers understand and get what they pay for. I think too many consumers currently feel cheated, for example when they get internet speeds far lower than advertised. Transparency is therefore essential. For instance, consumers should be clearly informed of the traffic management systems that are in place and should be able to choose their providers taking this into account.

These are not issues up for discussion, but clear rules already agreed and adopted. I will be vigilant to ensure that they are correctly transposed and implemented by the EU's Member States."

Ook gaat Kroes in op de volgende stappen in het proces:

"The EU's revised telecoms rules will be complemented by our forthcoming NGA Recommendation and Spectrum Policy, both of which will foster investment in efficient and open networks. Together this provides a good framework to deal with net neutrality issues. Therefore, in my opinion, any further regulatory intervention should be duly justified by the need to tackle specific problems which could possibly emerge. To this end, the Commission is carefully monitoring the impact of market and technological developments on net neutrality and will report to the European Parliament and the Council by the end of the year. The Commission will hear all interested stakeholders and I can announce my intention to launch a public consultation before the summer, in order to progress Europe's net neutrality debate."

Als het aan Kroes ligt, zal ze geen vooringenomen standpunt innemen. Bovendien wil ze geen overhaastige antwoorden geven, alvorens eerst goed te onderzoeken wat de potentiële problemen zijn, alsmede wat daarvoor dan de gepaste en proportionele oplossingen zouden zijn. Onnodige regelgeving dat opkomende nieuwe, efficiënte business modellen hindert, wil ze voorkomen. Meer specifiek wil ze de volgende beginselen hanteren:

"1. Freedom of expression is fundamental

I will not support any outcome that puts into danger freedom of expression.

2. Transparency is non-negotiable

This is already addressed in the new regulatory framework, but the principle is worth re-stating: in a complex system like the internet, it must be crystal clear what the practices of operators controlling the network mean for all users, including consumers.

3. We need investment in efficient and open networks

We have to adopt clear regulatory measures to foster investment in new efficient and open networks. Deploying such networks and promoting infrastructure competition may be the best way to avoid bottlenecks and monopolistic gatekeepers, thereby ensuring net neutrality.

4. Fair competition

Every player on the value chain should be free to fairly position themselves to offer the best possible service to their customers or end users. Any commercial or traffic management practice that does not follow objective and even-handed criteria, applicable to all comparable services, is potentially discriminatory in character. Discrimination against undesired competitors (for instance, those providing Voice over the Internet services) should not be allowed.

5. Support for innovation

There must be opportunities for new efficient business models and innovative businesses. And over time, we should continue to monitor whether traffic management is a spur to future network investment, and not a means of exploiting current network constraints."


"It may sound obvious, but my primary concern is to strike the right balance between the parties concerned.First and foremost, users should be able to access and distribute the content, services and applications they want. While content providers and network operators should have the right incentives and opportunities to keep investing, competing and innovating. And everyone deserves certainty about how this world will take shape."

Lees hier de volledige speech.






  1. NAAM