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EU Net Neutrality debate heats up as Tim Berners-Lee weighs in

400,000 submissions received, some critical of carriers claiming 5G costs justify fast lanes

By Richard Chirgwin, 20 Jul 2016

It's hard to work up a good lump in the throat in sympathy for a bureaucrat, but staff at the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) probably need just a little: they're going to have to work through 400,000 submissions about Net Neutrality in the EU.

Volker Sypli of German telco regulator BNetzA gave the number while briefing the 96th Internet Research Task Force (IETF) meeting in Berlin this week on the progress of its consultation.

Considering the consultation is supposed to result in an implementation plan by the end of August, BEREC has its work cut out for it just reading so many documents.

That implementation plan includes standardising how national regulators should monitor Internet quality of service, and what should be in an EU-wide net neutrality toolkit.

Heise reported from the meeting that IETF chair Lars Eggert said some kind of traffic management is going to be a reality on the Internet, because traffic growth keeps running ahead of investment in capacity.

The BEREC presentation comes in the context of strong pushback to European carriers' claim that 5G will need special rules to justify the investment in network rollout.

Over at the World Wide Web Foundation, Tim Berners-Lee urged the regulator not to “cave in to telecommunications carriers’ manipulative tactics.”

The European Broadcasting Union agrees. It's published its submission to BEREC here (PDF), and says “deployment of 5G should not be a pretext to water down the implementation of net neutrality rules”.

It adds that specialised services should not degrade the quality of service or availability of Internet access services.

Sypli's joint presentation with Ofcom's Ahmed Aldabbagh and Ben Wallis and Nkom's Frode Sørensen is here (PDF). ®

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