Guardian Knight or Hands Off: The European Response to Network Neutrality: Legal Considerations on the Electronic Communications Reform
Communications & Strategies, No. 72, p. 89, 4th Quarter 2008
24 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2009 Last revised: 17 Feb 2014
Date Written: December 31, 2008
Network neutrality refers to a policy principle regarding access for online content and service providers to broadband infrastructures. It implies a general and ex ante obligation of non-discrimination for network operators when granting access to providers of online services, with the aim of excluding practices such as blocking access to non-affiliated content, degrading the quality of transmission, imposing unreasonable restrictions or prioritising affiliated content. Whether such obligation should be "cast in the Stone Tables" of the law was first fiercely debated in the United States, and the issue is now gaining increased attention in other parts of the world, including the European Union, where the regulatory framework for electronic communications is currently under review. This article examines whether existing rules already provide the relevant authorities with the necessary tools to take action against broadband providers illegitimately discriminating or blocking content of those who are not prepared to pay a "toll" for the use of higher speed networks or better quality services. It focuses in particular on the EU regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services, including the reform proposals published by the European Commission on November 13th (type should be like 24th below) 2007 and the resolution adopted by the European Parliament on 24th September 2008.
Keywords: network neutrality, regulation, electronic communications, reform proposals
JEL Classification: K23, L52, L63
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation