Trying To Limit Net Access, Dutch Telcos Accidentally Force Government To Speak Out On Net Neutrality
from the backfire? dept
Although the below image has been circulating the internet as a satirical warning for some time now, Dutch telco KPN recently announced that it’s actually going to implement something like this due to declining revenue. The company stated that starting this summer it will be blocking chat-messaging applications such as WhatsApp (competes with SMS), VoIP services (competes with calls) and heavy streaming services. All these services will get their own price tag, just like what is currently the case with calling and text messaging. The problem with that logic of course is that calling and SMS are actually different services that the telco offers; but in the case of creating pay packages for internet services, probably none of the services are from the telco itself. Some other telcos, such as Vodafone, already stated that it, too, is interested in plans like these (Vodafone is already blocking VoIP and selling access to VoIP services for 5 EUR per month).
Unfortunately for KPN, this plan might actually backfire. The majority of the Dutch parliament has spoken out against the plans and have urged the Minister to protect net neutrality. Currently the Dutch Telecommunications Law does not provide a good safe harbor for net neutrality, but it soon might… because of this. One parliament member who is part of a ruling coalition party even suggested that if telcos are going to charge more for usage, perhaps the tariffs for normal phone calls should be lowered. Sadly, the Minister is less outspoken and has claimed that “mobile internet is really something different than an internet connection at home”.
It will be interesting to see what happens next. Will service providers like Wikipedia start charging telcos for “using their content for free?” Will Skype start demanding royalties? As we’ve said before: “it’s a pipedream for […] some mobile operators, but the likelihood of it actually becoming the norm seems pretty damn low.”