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Telecoms groups warned on data charges

14 апреля 2010

Telecoms companies will not be allowed to charge online content providers to deliver high-bandwidth content to internet users, the European Union telecoms commissioner said.

Neelie Kroes said she would take action if companies such as Telefónica and France Telecom sought payments in exchange for carrying bandwith-guzzling services such as Google’s popular YouTube video-sharing website.

 “Users should be able to access and distribute the content, services and applications they want,” she said in a speech in Paris.

Telecoms groups have argued in recent months that those websites that have caused an explosion in the amount of data carried over their networks should contribute towards the cost of expanding capacity, or face slower delivery of their content.

The battle has pitted companies such as Google and Skype, the internet-telephony provider, against traditional telecoms operators that are keen to tap the newcomers’ growing online advertising revenues.

Stéphane Richard, chief executive at France Telecom, argued recently: “There is something totally not normal and contrary to economic logic to let Google use our network without paying the price.”

Ms Kroes said she would not tolerate internet service providers that restricted the speed of commercial websites.

The principle of “net neutrality” she endorsed means telecoms companies would not be allowed to block services even if they are provided by direct competitors.

She warned mobile operators not to block “voice over internet” services such as Skype on their internet-capable handsets, as companies such as Vodafone have tried to do in the past.

Lobbyists for telecoms groups said the matter was not settled. “We need to explain that this will reduce incentives for us to invest in much-needed networks,” said one.

The EU debate echoes discussions going on in Washington, where “net neutrality” has been on the agenda for several years. The Federal Communications Commission has been consulting about a principle to preclude operators from discriminating against certain types of data traffic.

Ms Kroes said she would rely on the interpretation of existing rules to defend her stance, and would not intervene unless required. Her position will be strengthened by her reputation as a tough regulator, crafted during her previous job as EU competition commissioner.

Источник: Financial Times

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