A broad coalition of stakeholders have publicly warned against the introduction of a network fees mechanism at EU level amid fears of a breach in Net Neutrality.
The signatories also include many industries and sectors, consumers and civil society in what is being seen as an unprecedented alliance of stakeholders.
In February, the European Commission put forward a “Connectivity Package” including an exploratory consultation on the “Future of the electronic communications sector and its infrastructure”. Included is a proposal for a mechanism establishing significant direct payments from content providers and technology companies to large European telecommunication companies.
The argument is that anyone using the telcos’ ‘pipe’ for the distribution of its services should pay for its running costs.
“We are concerned about the wide scope of the consultation, that the voices of SME Stakeholders would be drowned out by parties whose livelihood and interests are not directly impacted by the outcome of the consultation,” said Tom Smyth, CEO of Wireless Connect Ltd. “It is not apparent how the information gathered in this consultation will be analysed (both logically and statistically), and how individual responses will be weighted.”
“A network fee direct payments scheme is not the right solution to achieve high quality and affordable connectivity for consumers,” added Ursula Pachl, Deputy Director General of the European Consumer Organisation BEUC). “We are concerned about its negative effects on competition and net neutrality”
The coalition, which includes the creative industry, sports, civil society and consumers argue there is no proof that there is a market failure to be addressed, and the solution proposed by large telecom providers would pose serious threats to competition, consumers’ freedom of choice, and the internet ecosystem as a whole.
They’ve called upon the European Commission to launch a thorough and comprehensive impact assessment and evidence gathering exercise before jumping to “hasty conclusions”.
Signatories include the Association of Commercial TV & VOD Services in Europe (ACT), Premier Broadband, Dutch Cloud Community, Motion Picture Association of Europe, Middle East & Africa and BECU.