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EU net neutrality rules to allow for ‘higher quality’ internet TV services

European Commission 2The European Union rules on net neutrality are likely to allow service providers to establish fast lanes for applications including internet TV provided they do not impinge on other traffic, according to the latest agreement between the European Commission, European Parliament and the Council on the telecom single market package.

“In the open Internet, all traffic will be treated equally, subject to strict and clearly identified public-interest exceptions, such as network security or combating child pornography, and subject to efficient day-to-day network management by Internet service providers,” said the EC press release on the agreement, adding the significant caveat that “in parallel, Internet access providers will still be able to offer specialised services of higher quality, such as Internet TV and new innovative applications, so long as these services are not supplied at the expense of the quality of the open Internet.”

The compromise agreement, as part of the self-styled ‘trilogue’ meetings between the institutions, is the first move to set the principle of net neutrality in the framework of EU law. Users will not be “unfairly blocked or slowed down” and “paid prioritisation will not be allowed”, said the release.

However the caveat on ‘specialised services’ sets the EC’s rules apart from those adopted in the US, which adhered to a stricter interpretation of net neutrality.

The EU agreement also called for the abolition of international roaming charges within Europe by June 2017 and a harmonised management of radio spectrum at EU level.