ISP Users Call on EU to Retain Internet Neutrality

A joint survey conducted by Synovate on 944 UK, German and French Internet users for eBay, Skype, Google, YouTube, Yahoo!, Dailymotion and PriceMinister has revealed that 91% feel that their broadband ISP should continue, without preference, to give them access to all content and services of their choice (Net Neutrality).

Just 5% expected their ISP to block or reduce the quality of specific legitimate websites, applications or services. Similarly less than 5% also expected their ISP to charge an additional fee for accessing content, applications or services that require higher Internet speeds. These findings remained broadly similar across all three countries.

Joint Statement from the companies involved: "EU lawmakers should make sure that national authorities have the powers they need to act in cases where traffic management by telecommunication companies constitute unnecessary, discriminatory and/or anti-competitive behavior."

Elsewhere 97% of UK Internet users had received no communication from their ISP regarding Traffic Management policies, which dropped to 91% in France and 88% in Germany. In response to discovering that their ISP was blocking / limiting their service, many consumers would complain. Furthermore, between 7 and 15% would switch ISP even if the costs were higher.

The survey also asked which activities consumers regularly use a computer for at home, whether for business or personal use. The results were as follows. We note that online gaming (multiplayer) is notably by its absence:

Finally, over half hold their ISP responsible if they have a loss of Internet connection (58%) or a poor connection (59%), while 45% would blame their ISP when experiencing a slower speed than usual. Interestingly 44% would also blame their ISP for an inability to access certain websites or Internet services and 30% would blame them if their screen froze while online.

Naturally the survey has been timed to coincide with a crucial EU debate on several proposed amendments to telecom rules. The changes could allow ISPs free reign to prioritise (favour) traffic to specific services and or restrict others, thus creating a tiered Internet experience. Final legislation is expected to be adopted in April.

Typically service specific restrictions are nothing new to most UK ISP consumers, since many providers already adopt traffic management policies. However the new rules could allow even more freedom for ISPs to limit access, which risks stifling creativity and new ideas. For example, imagine if an ISP only let you view the BBC's iPlayer Internet TV (IPTV) service but not Channel4 or ITV's? That would hardly be fair.

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