Net-neutrality means an open network allowing equal access to all resources of the internet and its equal treatment. The internet users should have a choice of what they want to see, and of course this can be restricting if some sites are downloading slow, making users to “prefer” faster sites. This control is called traffic management, where the internet service providers impose some restrictions to the speed and accessibility of certain sites at certain times; managing the traffic without letting the users know about it. Whereas giving “faster access” to other sites who paid for it.
One of the wide known examples is the technical inaccessibility of Skype calls in the evenings with some providers. Some internet providers are intentionally slowing video-streaming services provided by competitors. This is unacceptable and unfair for those service providers who rely on internet to give their services to their customers. The example of Neelie Kroes, the EU’s commissioner for the digital agenda, serves as a good point to understand it:
“A consumer’s experience is not affected if an e-mail reaches him a few seconds after it has been sent, whereas a similar delay to a voice communication would cause it to be significantly degraded, if not rendered entirely useless.”
Of course, some traffic needs to be managed, for example video sites that store huge amounts of data, need to be managed, but what net-neutrality campaigners say is that there should be a prioritization of content sites providers. Consumers don’t want to be “managed”, “controlled” what sites to see, funneling their attention to the web pages that faster than others. For example, when YouTube came along, everyone was thrilled to be able to upload and see news, information, innovations and openness of the information. But the restriction of the fast access of those video in some areas, because the ISP can’t provide the bandwidth that they were advertising – of course might be changing the experiences of customers.
Moreover, this brings up the question of the customer controls, like the private channels (cable television) control what the viewers can see, which adverts, which movies, which programmes and therefore controlling the buying behaviors of a family watching those channels. The same is here. Idea of the internet being an open space as opposed to TV, radio, newspapers and other media is under the question that opens the debate across Europe. Advocates of net-neutrality insist a fair internet is vital to foster competition and innovation, and that policies to prevent such practices should be put in place sooner rather than later.
EU is going to investigate whether internet service providers are providing fair access to online services. The investigation will cover both mobile and fixed providers and will be published by the end of the year. Investigation will also ask businesses and consumers to highlight shortcomings, and if the findings indicate “outstanding problems” they will assess further measures.