Ahead of a key vote on European telecoms reform, industry bodies Cable Europe, ECTA, ETNO and GSMA have slammed draft legislation around net neutrality.
In a joint statement, the group said it is “highly concerned” about recent developments in the open internet debate at European level that could negatively affect a range of players in the EU digital value chain.
It pointed to “a set of misconceptions about our industry… a rushed legislative process and a lack of technical analysis” that risked transforming the Connected Continent reform into “an anti-innovation and anti-consumer choice legislation”.
Last September, the European Commission unveiled what it called “its most ambitious plan in 26 years of telecoms market reform".
The Connected Continent legislative package featured a promise to ban the blocking and throttling of internet content, although there is scope for the provision of certain “specialised services” with assured quality so long as this did not interfere with internet speeds promised to other customers. The EC name-checked IPTV, VoD and business-critical cloud apps as example of specialised services.
The European Parliament votes on the package on Thursday.
However, the joint statement from the industry bodies claims that the current compromise reflects “very restrictive views on how the internet should work and on how specialised services with enhanced quality could be offered”.
It added: “If these views prevail… there will be a lower quality of service for consumers and businesses in Europe.”
Specifically, the industry bodies claim services such as VPNs, IPTV and telepresence would “be put in jeopardy” while operators would be “prevented” from efficiently managing their networks and from providing innovative services that require enhanced levels of quality.
Competition between operators and backbone or CDN providers, which have a business model based on obtaining revenues from improving QoE, would also be distorted and the reforms would ultimately result in a “very uncertain” regulatory environment.
All four bodies maintained that they support an open internet.