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Friday 24 October  
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Myrtille van Bommel's picture
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The Hague, Netherlands
The Hague, Netherlands

Netherlands guarantees net neutrality

Published on : 9 June 2011 - 10:33pm | By Myrtille van Bommel (Photo: ANP)
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The Netherlands is to be the first European country to guarantee open and free access to the internet. Economic Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen has embraced an opposition bill about ‘net neutrality’. In future, telecom operators will no longer be allowed to charge extra for internet services like Skype and YouTube. The bill has the support of a parliamentary majority.

If the bill is adopted on Tuesday, it would mean telecom providers can't go ahead with their plans to charge users extra for services like Skype and Youtube. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services and streaming video on mobile phones would also no longer fall under existing subscription packages. Telecom providers would really prefer to go back to the old system under which their clients paid per MB.

4G
The telecommunications industry says it really has no choice because the widespread use of free services is costing them too much. Data traffic has grown exponentially in the past few years. At the same time, telecom providers have seen revenue from telephony (both via landlines and via mobile phones) and text messaging take a nose-dive. The telecommunications industry says that unless new sources of revenue are found they will have no money to pay for the new hyper-fast 4G mobile network.

Open internet
However, a majority in parliament, which has now been joined by the minister, will not stand for any infringement of net neutrality. Minister Verhagen:

“By enshrining a guaranteed open internet in law, the Netherlands shows how important we feel it is for citizens to have free access to the internet. Without interference, and primarily by deciding for oneself what information one wants to use.”

Minister Verhagen does not have the support of the coalition parties CDA (Christian democrats) and VVD (conservatives). The two parties want to postpone a decision on net neutrality, because other European countries are not yet ready to take a decision.

European Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes has said she believes European rules to guarantee free access to the internet are not necessary. However, Minister Verhagen believes that introducing net neutrality legislation now will send a clear signal to other countries to follow suit.

Consumers
The Dutch consumers’ interests watchdog De Consumentenbond is pleased with the preservation of an open internet. The organisation fears that additional charges for certain web services would hamper internet innovation. Skype and YouTube are examples of user-developed services.

According to a spokesperson, “Creativity would be seriously hampered if they were to be included in paid subscriptions.” And users would reportedly face a veritable jungle of subscriptions.

The telecom providers have not yet reacted to Minister Verhagen’s statements on a guaranteed open internet, but they will be sure to be following next week’s parliamentary debate intently from the public gallery.

(gsh)

 

Discussion

Harry de Haan, Brisbane, Australia 13 June 2011 - 7:55am

@ RNW ;
I don't think you have a World First there and I certainly wouldn't call it Dutch Value, but in Hilversum you could possible see this ''victory'' as Cheap Talk, possibly even Free.

it's simply common sense to use Skype or other VoIP in days when common sense is not so common any more.

eliminating the shaping or charging extra for Skype/VoIP services on Dutch mobile networks sounds like something your Director-General and Editor-in-Chief should fight for, perhaps they can now focus on the excessive International Roaming charges by Dutch telcos, so RNWs 40 000 truckies, who listen to The European Roadshow on shortwave, can continue to listen once the demolition team at Radio NETHERLANDS Internationals has destroyed RNW services and programs before they force their absurd ideas onto other countries.

Kafka's Dog 12 June 2011 - 4:12pm / United States of America

And so it is to the printing press--to the recorder of man's deeds, the keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news--that we look for strength and assistance, confident that with your help man will be what he was born to be: free and independent.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Vera Gottlieb 10 June 2011 - 6:10pm / Germany

And not only greed has backfired - the attempt to muzzle the entire world and free speech has backfired too.

Expat 10 June 2011 - 11:44am

Finally, something very positive and encouraging.

Internet with blocks is not internet. There is only one internet, and that's the free open one.

Greed has backfired.

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