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Net neutrality integrated into Dutch law

Net neutrality integrated into Dutch law

Under Dutch law, services such as Skype will now be free to use over a 3G connection.

Dutch mobile operators face a potential cut in profits, as the Netherlands government is about to ban charging consumers for internet-based communications services.

The Guardian reports that services such as Skype and the free text messaging service WhatsApp will now be free to use in the country. This is all in an effort to maintain net neutrality - ensuring that all internet traffic is treated the same.

While many operators allow free use of Skype over 3G (Skype included 3G support in its iPhone app last year), many consumers incur charges as the networks attempt to recover the cost of people using Skype to make calls as a part of their data plans. As a result, Skype had to advise its users that 'operator data charges may still apply.'

However, it's the precedent set by this law that's the most interesting aspect. The handling of net traffic has traditionally been confined to the likes of ISPs, who have been throttling certain types of network traffic, such as peer-to-peer, in an attempt to relieve the strain caused by large downloads, particularly during all peak periods.

The European parliament and European commission have endorsed the idea of network neutrality, but The Netherlands is the first country in the EU to go as far as making such legislation law.

Is net neutrality an impractical idea, or will ISPs and mobile operators just have to bite the bullet? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

35 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
atlas 24th June 2011, 11:44 Quote
They gonna have to bite the bullet, they can't always fleece the public.
Tangster 24th June 2011, 11:48 Quote
This is the right way to go, data is data.
jamsand 24th June 2011, 11:52 Quote
You can say that but the companies have to make money somehow. That said freestuff who's gonna say no? lol
Gigglebyte 24th June 2011, 11:57 Quote
This article pleases me and gives me some relief from the Digital Economy Act 2010. I'm pleased that in this case money from large companies isn't pushing the Dutch government into creating negative legislation.
AcidJiles 24th June 2011, 11:57 Quote
Well done the Dutch. Now if everyone else could stop kissing coporations butts that would be good.
RichCreedy 24th June 2011, 12:11 Quote
ahh but now all the mobile operators will do is increase the cost of that data plan
r3loaded 24th June 2011, 12:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamsand
You can say that but the companies have to make money somehow. That said freestuff who's gonna say no? lol
They're already making money by charging for the connection. They can't double-dip like this.
Ayrto 24th June 2011, 12:35 Quote
For anyone unsure what it's all about :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWt0XUocViE

And Ed Vaizey thinks ISPs, quote:"should be free to abandon net neutrality"

The European Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes (who happens to be Dutch btw). Thinks one possible solution is to enshrine Net neutrality into european law (there is currently a consultation). Some guess the only reason this hasn't happened already is massive lobbying on behalf of the big european telecom firms . The UK govt is simply asking big ISPs what they want .

So far, all Kroes has said is, she wants to see people able to end contracts with ISPs at short notice without penalties, thus offering the chance to show what you think of an ISP that does start messing with neutrality. It's likely the Tories will fight any enshrining.
Woodspoon 24th June 2011, 12:46 Quote
It's a good thing :)
Gigglebyte 24th June 2011, 12:53 Quote
At least I can now create a list of countries to move to if it all does go digitally tits-up on the net here in the UK.
jhng 24th June 2011, 12:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamsand
You can say that but the companies have to make money somehow.

The network providers have plenty of opportunity to make money by providing a fast, reliable service and charging us accordingly.

I really don't see any need for tie-ups between content providers and network providers -- it's just a recipe for the sort of exclusivity deals that will make it that much harder for new entrants to either market and reduce our freedom of choice in relation to either market.

But of course the incumbent UK government typically goes a bit weak at the knees in the presence of big business and is likely to roll over, as Ed Vaizey implies.

I look forward to a day when BT customers can only play CoD and O2 customers can only play MoH (neither being able to play TF2, of course, because that will only be available on Virgin...)

P.S. -- Good luck Neelie Kroes!!
r3loaded 24th June 2011, 13:01 Quote
Neelie Kroes has a good track record of sticking up for consumers and smacking down powerful interests. It'd be good if there an EU-wide net neutrality directive came from this.
Denis_iii 24th June 2011, 13:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tangster
This is the right way to go, data is data.

+1, time Mobile providers stop shafting consumers and delaying the inevitable that voice and mms and texts should all be charged as data
John_T 24th June 2011, 13:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ayrto
...It's likely the Tories , will fight any enshrining .

Yeah, blame the Tories, because Labour on the other hand spent 13 years defending our rights and privileges... [Cue howls of laughter]

Back on topic - good for the Dutch.
Tangster 24th June 2011, 13:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by John_T
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ayrto
...It's likely the Tories , will fight any enshrining .

Yeah, blame the Tories, because Labour on the other hand spent 13 years defending our rights and privileges... [Cue howls of laughter]

Back on topic - good for the Dutch.

Well, the Tories are very pro-business, but then...Peter Mandelson.
Ayrto 24th June 2011, 13:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by John_T
Yeah, blame the Tories, because Labour on the other hand spent 13 years defending our rights and privileges... [Cue howls of laughter]

Back on topic - good for the Dutch.

Why assume someone supports Labour because they can't stand the Tories?

Off topic , but FYI, I'm fairly apolitical. Voted LD at the last election :o. I tend to take things on a policy by policy basis and feel that the British political class collectively, don't understand or care about creative industries or net freedom.
Bauul 24th June 2011, 15:14 Quote
I think the point of the Dutch law is that an ISP can't charge for data that the owners of that data wouldn't charge for themselves.

It's not about throttling, which is just slowing down some kinds of data, so even if this came into EU law I can't see it changing anything in the UK, as I don't think any ISPs do charge for certain kinds of data over here.
Phil Rhodes 24th June 2011, 16:09 Quote
Quote:
data is data.

Unfortunately, this is not so.

1GB downloaded in one go at peak times is not the same as 1MB downloaded a thousand times a month at random times.

I don't support abandonment of net neutrality, but there is a genuine concern here. Transferring more data requires more infrastructure and therefore higher costs; nobody is (or should be) getting fat off this. If we want to uphold principles such as net neutrality, we will simply have to pay for it direct in our ISP bills (and that might be fine).

P
Ayrto 24th June 2011, 16:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bauul
I think the point of the Dutch law is that an ISP can't charge for data that the owners of that data wouldn't charge for themselves.

It's not about throttling, which is just slowing down some kinds of data, so even if this came into EU law I can't see it changing anything in the UK, as I don't think any ISPs do charge for certain kinds of data over here.

Though network capacity is, as you say, a different issue , I think if the principle of net neutrality was set in european law, it would bring about changes to the bandwidth throttling practices of ISPs here. For starters, they'd have to set out clearly, what they are doing, when and why, together with precise speed expectations and guarantees. Kroes is fighting for this already.

Anyway, the alternative to a law is the prospect of greedy ISPs double dipping(Vaizey's preferred option). By charging twice for the same data- the customer and websites too. And how would these ISP 'toll booths' affect web content in the short and longer term?

Even if the promise is better(higher bandwidth) infrastructure sooner, that's not worth sacrificing net neutrality for imho.
boggsi 24th June 2011, 17:22 Quote
As far as I can gather, Net neutrality doesn't prevent you from imposing limits on use or times that you use it just says "data is data".

i.e. you can't charge extra just because someone is using Skype from a mobile connection or traffic shape because someone is using a torrent. Sounds fair to me.
Er-El 24th June 2011, 20:24 Quote
In what way does this account for any unintended consequences?









Hint: It doesn't.
TWeaK 24th June 2011, 21:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamsand
You can say that but the companies have to make money somehow.

I think I read on Ars a while back that the actual cost for bandwidth is minimal (a few pennies per gigabyte) for wireline connections. Obviously for mobile connections this would be higher, but we're still not talking massive amounts. Consumers in the UK can pay £20 a month for broadband and be limited to 30 GB. All the while telecomms companies are making record profits year on year yet investment in infrastructure isn't keeping up (not sure where we stand in the UK - we seem to be getting some improvements, even if we're still miles behind many other countries - but in the US investment is declining).

@edit: Just wanted to add that the points on bandwidth might seem a bit off-topic, but actually one of the main reasons used for traffic shaping and prioritisation is that there is a limit on available bandwidth. This is true, of course, but it's being held back in many countries by a lack of investment.

I'm generally against regulation, however with the situation as it is governments do need to step in to keep the internet free and as good as we know it. BT provide a variety of TV services now, do we want to leave it up to them what priority Netflix (or its equivalent, whenever we get it) has over their networks? I'll bet good money that if they have their way, it'll be at the bottom of their QoS lists, if not crippled.
John_T 25th June 2011, 00:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ayrto
Why assume someone supports Labour because they can't stand the Tories?

I didn't assume or say that, you're the one making assumptions there - I clearly referenced Labour in the context of being the last government for 13 years. Generally speaking, when people don't like whatever the government are doing they say 'the government', and when they want to start party political point scoring they bring up the party name, (or nickname).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ayrto
...[I] feel that the British political class collectively, don't understand or care about creative industries or net freedom.

I agree with that though. But then with all three major parties having their hierarchies derived of upper-middle-class 'Oxbridge' graduates, (usually PPE) with negligible real world work experience, I think there's quite a lot they don't understand or care enough about...

Quote:
Originally Posted by TWeaK
BT provide a variety of TV services now, do we want to leave it up to them what priority Netflix (or its equivalent, whenever we get it) has over their networks? I'll bet good money that if they have their way, it'll be at the bottom of their QoS lists, if not crippled.

This is precisely the problem with not enshrining net-neutrality.

Allowing a totally 'free-enterprise' or 'capitalist' approach with no oversight actually ends up running the risk of the internet becoming a closed shop in certain areas, both anti-competitive and monopolistic - as a small handful of well established players become able to dominate the market: Whether it's ISP's who also run their own services, or simply large established players who can afford to pay to prioritise their traffic, thus shutting out the possibility of much smaller rivals being allowed to grow and flourish.

It's a fairly simple argument, it's amazing how so many or our MP's from across the political spectrum just don't seem to grasp it.
lp1988 25th June 2011, 21:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamsand
You can say that but the companies have to make money somehow.

Have to say that I disagree with you there, if the product or services a company offer is no longer relevant that company has to die or change, it is that simple. we shouldn't try to protect a certain company on the basis that they have to make money.

And these companies has changed dramatically in the last few years, from simply providing access for calls/SMS to offering a wide range of services from internet, music, video into satellite GPS tracking. while some of these sources of revenue are becoming extinct the other services may be the sole purpose of these companies in a few years.
timevans999 26th June 2011, 08:08 Quote
typical of mobile operators
stonedsurd 26th June 2011, 08:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by AcidJiles
Well done the Dutch. Now if everyone else could stop kissing coporations butts that would be good.

This.
Ayrto 26th June 2011, 11:49 Quote
@John_T
This makes clear what the government's view is: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1330767/Ed-Vaizey-turns-net-neutrality-backing-tier-internet.html

The Lib Dems made a big play prior to the general election, about how they support net freedom and specifically net neutrality. Guess this will be yet another issue where they become a doormat for the Tories.
Anfield 26th June 2011, 21:59 Quote
Meh... nice in theory, but lets face it, all it will achieve is a excuse to further raise the price per MB of Data transferred.
[USRF]Obiwan 27th June 2011, 08:19 Quote
One of the rare occasions my government has done something good...

If you think of it, the operators are thiefs!

You pay for your phone subscription (mobile/calling/sms)
Then on top of that you pay a monthly fee for your mobile internet connection.
And now the operators want to charge for the protocols you use on that internet connection.

It's because the use of sms is falling down quickly. Since you can put msn on your phone and use that to keep in touch with your friends. No extra costs per sms message.

But the operators will probably get around it by lowering the data you may use per month to 100kb and charge 50cents for every exta 100kb you use...
jhng 27th June 2011, 13:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by [USRF]Obiwan

But the operators will probably get around it by lowering the data you may use per month to 100kb and charge 50cents for every exta 100kb you use...

Good. That's the way it should be. Because the next step will be one of the operators charging 49 cents for each 150KB in order to attract a bigger share of the market.

Rinse and repeat a few times and eventually we end up with a sensible price range for data transmission (irrespective of what that data actually is) which is affordable for the vast majority and allows the service providers to remain solvent.

(or at least that's the theory...)
Xir 27th June 2011, 14:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by [USRF]Obiwan
You pay for your phone subscription (mobile/calling/sms)
Then on top of that you pay a monthly fee for your mobile internet connection.
And now the operators want to charge for the protocols you use on that internet connection.

Other way around..if you have a "flatrate" mobile internet connection, and use skype, you won't NEED mobile/calling/SMS anymore.

So they're blocking Skype, to sell you mobile/phone/SMS.
Xir 27th June 2011, 14:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichCreedy
ahh but now all the mobile operators will do is increase the cost of that data plan

Which is effin expensive as it is...here anyway.:'(
IonKnight 27th June 2011, 21:18 Quote
I’m happy for the Dutch least they have a government trying to go in the right direction. However more than anything I can guess that teleco companies are terrified that everyone will just use that little more data. If the Dutch are anything like us there 3G usage must be nasty, there infrastructure is probably close to breaking point and calls and SMS use a different network. So I can understand why they might have tried to block this but hey will be good for us in the UK we can check to see what happens over there to see if there are any consequences.

Also in regards to the IP traffic shaping is just another way they make money off something twice, so I want to see that gone asap (lol like I’ll ever get it in the UK :P). To it simply telecoms operators have a little bit of a fair reason to complain about this, but ISP's, no. The original implementation of the ISP's didn't have this as a service, however it's different for telecoms as they might actually loose a main service they have been providing for decades.
Xir 28th June 2011, 08:59 Quote
... are you sure about the "Calls and SMS use a different ork than Data" part? :|
Gigglebyte 28th June 2011, 10:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by jhng


Good. That's the way it should be. Because the next step will be one of the operators charging 49 cents for each 150KB in order to attract a bigger share of the market.

Rinse and repeat a few times and eventually we end up with a sensible price range for data transmission (irrespective of what that data actually is) which is affordable for the vast majority and allows the service providers to remain solvent.

(or at least that's the theory...)

If it was that simple it would be nice, unfortunately all date providers will most likely abuse their market power and agree to keep their prices within a specified range and not let competition thrive and instead work together (illegally) secure high rates for data transmission.
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