EU Institutions Struggling to Agree on a Common Position on Net Neutrality and Roaming
EU member governments have been discussing new rules on roaming and net neutrality to be included in the EU Telecoms Package over past few months. But they are apparently now struggling to move along trialogue talks with the EU Parliament and the EU Commission towards a common position. Following the EU Parliament’s vote in favour of strict net neutrality rules in April 2014 the Council under Latvian presidency has been pushing back to soften the approach to net neutrality and roaming. In a leaked proposal of 17 May
the member governments removed the requirement of “non-discriminatory treatment” and abandoned the definition of net neutrality being “the principle according to which all internet traffic is treated equally” as well as any reference to the term “net neutrality”. Moreover, the Council intended to limit restrictions on traffic management. Regarding the rules to abolish roaming charges by 2016 the Council proposed to delay those until 2018.
According to Reuters
, however, an even more recent proposal by the Council is seeking to reconcile the different positions by reintroducing the obligation to “treat all traffic equally”. Also according to the latest proposal specialised services would only be allowed where there is enough network capacity to ensure other users' connections are not materially impacted. As regards roaming charges the new text now proposes 15 June 2017 as an end date. In the interim a transitional system, running from May 2016 until June 2017, would apply in which consumers would get at least 50 minutes of calls, 50 text messages and 150 megabytes of data at their domestic rates when travelling abroad.
Meanwhile U.S. telecoms providers keep challenging the strict open Internet rules approved by the U.S. regulatory power FCC. In a recent move AT&T, US Telecom and other opponents asked the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to put a temporary hold on some of the rules, in particular those reclassifying broadband providers as common carriers, until their lawsuit challenging the regulations is resolved. FCC Chairman Wheeler however said he felt pretty confident on the outcome of the Court cases since the FCC had resolved potential legal issues that had made it possible for Verizon to successfully sue the agency over its previous net neutrality regulations.
Oddly enough, it seems as if the EU could end up with net neutrality rules that are less restrictive and more investor-friendly than those in the U.S.
Please contact: Dr. Tobias Frevert
or Pascal Schumacher
Practice Group: Telecommunications
Further articles: First lawsuits against FCC’s new rules on net neutrality
; EU Council about to Reach Compromise on Net Neutrality