EU commissioner to advocate elimination of VoIP frustrations

A European Union commissioner has indicated that she intends to push for tighter rules to ensure web users do not suffer from arbitrary squeezes on space for certain internet services.

Neelie Kroes, a commissioner whose remit covers digital policy across Europe, was responding to a recent report by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) which found that some internet service providers (ISPs) were unfairly preventing their customers from securing full access to certain value added services.

The BEREC report claimed that such restrictions were being imposed in order to prioritise network capacity for more conventional types of internet traffic, particularly at busy times of the day.

According to the report, services at particular risk from such restrictions include internet protocol (IP) telephony and file sharing. Estimates for the proportions of users affected by such ‘throttling’ were given in the report as somewhere between 20 and 50% Europe-wide.

Commenting on what has been officially termed the ‘internet neutrality’ issue, Kroes said:

“For most Europeans, their internet access works well most of the time.

“But these findings show the need for more regulatory certainty and that there are enough problems to warrant strong and targeted action to safeguard consumers.”

Kroes said that such rules helping to guarantee internet neutrality needed to be enforced on a Europe-wide basis rather than by individual member states, in order not to “slow down the creation of a Single Digital Market”.

The Commissioner admitted that most ISPs do already offer certain types of plan which guarantee not to curtail space for any requested service; but that such information was not always transparent to consumers when deciding on which broadband service to choose from.

The comments by Kroes reinforce those from industry experts who strongly advise enterprises to ensure their broadband service can adequately handle value added services such as business VoIP (voice over internet protocol).