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Operators warned over traffic management

12 ноября 2010

Mobile operators who block, or degrade the service quality of, certain applications will be forced to inform their customers of their actions and allow customers to freely switch providers if they wish, said Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda.

Speaking at the European Commission and European Parliament Summit on 'The Open Internet and Net Neutrality in Europe' Brussels on 11 November, Kroes reminded operators of their obligations under the telecoms framework, agreed by the European Parliament and Council. Specifically, operators must not use network constraints as an excuse to exploit users.

"The telecoms framework, agreed by the European Parliament and Council, gives us important tools," Kroes said. "Firstly, national regulatory authorities have a clear mandate to 'promote the ability of end-users to access and distribute information or run applications and services of their choice'. Secondly, regulators are also empowered to impose minimum quality of service requirements to prevent service degradation. Thirdly, operators are required to inform customers of any traffic management measures they are deploying."

Kroes said that the EC would make sure these provisions were applied in all Member States in a co-ordinated manner, and would be monitored closely to make sure there was not "patchwork" aproach.Given the potential of those tools, it is only fair that we test their effectiveness.

"I hope this monitoring and the upcoming implementation of the telecoms framework by Member States will pave the way for truly open networks," Kroes said.
Kroes said that although "nearly everyone agrees that traffic management is essential, not only to optimise the provision of 'best effort services' on the open Internet, but also to allow the development of special managed services", operators should take care to use that traffic management "properly".

That means that operators may use traffic management to increase the quality of Internet services, preserve network integrity and open the way to new investments in efficient networks. What operators should not do is use it it as "simply a means of exploiting current network constraints".

Although operators have been urged to follow the principles of open access, Kroes said that the blocking and "throttling" of sites and applications, or applying differentiated end-user data charges for certain applications, continues to a certain extent.
"This clearly creates a problem if consumers are not duly informed and do not have the possibility to easily switch to alternative providers which do not undertake such practices," she said.

Kroes followed up this point by calling on consumers who find themselves blocked from open access to certain applications to vote with their feet, or wallets.
"Blocking of Internet telephone services i.e. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) – in particular Skype - over mobile networks is the obvious example today. VoIP is merely today's example. There will surely be other examples with future innovations and that is why we cannot be complacent. But I think consumers should not underestimate their own power in shaping this situation.
"And I say to those people who are currently cut off from Skype: vote with your feet and leave your mobile provider."



Источник: Mobile Europe

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