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March 5, 2015updated 06 Sep 2016 2:20pm

Net neutrality proposals a ‘missed opportunity’, says GSMA

Mobile World Congress organiser adds its voice to criticism of European Council's proposals.

By Alexander Sword

The GSM Association (GSMA) and others have criticised the European Council’s recent position on net neutrality and roaming, suggesting the proposed regulation does not go far enough.

In a statement, the trade body, which organises Mobile World Congress, praised the EC for taking some steps on net neutrality and roaming, but argued that "the reduction in scope of the Connected Continent proposals to net neutrality and roaming represents a missed opportunity."

This echoed the views expressed strongly by MEPs in a recent letter to ministers of the telecoms council, which stated, "weakened proposals on net neutrality go against the European Parliament’s repeated calls for clear definitions. We must ensure consumers are protected, innovative start-ups can develop and competition on the open internet is fair."

While EU lawmakers had voted for very stringent net neutrality rules to bar providers from prioritising content last April, a recent announcement saw this approach has since been watered down.

By contrast, ISPs would now be unable to block or slowdown specific traffic, but some exceptions would allow them to manage traffic. Operators would additionally be allowed to favour services requiring "a specific level of quality", with IoT applications being a potential example.

The news comes after the US’s FCC passed net neutrality rules last week.

In its own statement, the Council commented: "The draft regulation is to enshrine the principle of end-users’ right to access and distribute content of their choice on the internet. It also sets out to ensure that companies that provide internet access treat traffic in a non-discriminatory manner."

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The European Council was also criticised for extending roaming charges for three years, as the European Parliament had suggested ending them by the end of 2015.

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