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