European vice-president Neelie Kroes has promised to include rules on guaranteeing unrestricted internet access in her forthcoming package of telecom measures, but has cautioned against over-regulation of access to the net that could stifle innovation.
In a blog posting, Kroes said that she aimed to bring to an end the practices of service providers that changed subscribers’ terms and conditions retrospectively and placed arbitrary caps on usage without stating this in the contracts that subscribers signed up to.
“In a competitive, transparent market, consumers should know what they’re getting and should be able to vote with their feet,” she said.
However Kroes warned against over-regulation and said quality guarantees for services including IPTV and cloud-based services should be permitted. “If EU laws banned such quality guarantees, we would risk effectively outlawing many of those new services too,” she said. Data caps on usage and differentiation by selling premium access products will also be permitted provided the terms are clear.
“The fact is the Internet does not come for free. It relies on networks, and investment; if that does not come from taxpayers then it must be from private companies. If you prevent operators from providing what their customers might actually want – by effectively outlawing new services you are making that job a lot harder,” said Kroes.