Telecoms chiefs call for pragmatism on net neutrality

Europe’s two biggest telecom operators have called on regulators to be flexible and pragmatic in finalising rules to protect the openness of the internet, to allow them to give priority to certain kinds of data traffic on their networks.

The chief executives of Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom said yesterday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that network operators needed to give special treatment to data for new services like connected cars and smart electricity meters to ensure they functioned properly.

Industry expects such specialised services could eventually generate billions in additional revenue as everyday tasks are increasingly connected to the web.

In the US and Europe regulators are forming policies on how to protect “net neutrality”, the concept all traffic on the internet must be treated equally regardless of content or source.

The issue often pits providers of bandwidth-hungry internet services such as Netflix, Spotify, and YouTube against the telecoms and cable companies. Meanwhile, governments want to ensure network owners do not become gatekeepers thwarting start-ups or new services by imposing special charges for high volume traffic.

“We favour net neutrality, but we need to be allowed to have quality classes to enable new services in the Internet of Things,” said Deutsche Telekom’s chief executive, Tim Hoettges.


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