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MEPs: Oi, Commish, where'd you get these broadband figures from?

Access speeds in doubt as EU Parliament lumbers towards net neutrality

MEPs have told the European Commission that it needs to do more to ensure broadband roll-out across the continent - and to get its facts straight.

In a resolution approved on Tuesday, the European Parliament said that former state-owned monopolies have a “staggering market share of over 80 per cent” of the next-generation broadband market, adding that the Commission should do more to enforce EU competition rules.

“Limiting competition is unlikely to lead to more broadband investment, even in remote areas, as full coverage of basic broadband services has been achieved in Europe through a regulatory framework ensuring access to dominant operators’ networks,” says the Parliament statement.

It also cast doubt on the Commission’s figures: in particular, end-user broadband speeds and the real level of infrastructure investment. MEPs said the Commission should be drawing up policy based on “correct, relevant datasets” from independent sources.

The document, which also called on the executive arm’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager to get to grips with Google’s anti-trust case, went on to urge the Commission to back new net neutrality rules.

“Net neutrality is of the utmost importance to ensure that there is no discrimination between internet services. Guaranteeing an open internet and enshrining net neutrality in EU law, so as to ensure that all internet traffic is treated equally, without discrimination, restriction or interference, [is] essential to foster competition and boost growth and competitiveness and consumer trust in the digital sector,” states the resolution.

In pushing for stronger net neutrality laws from the Commission, MEPs may find themselves compared to the Taliban by Digital Agenda Commissioner Gunther H-dot Oettinger. Last week the gaffe-prone digi chief likened net neutrality activists to the Afghanistan-based terrorist organisation.

A proposed net neutrality law for Europe is currently on the table. National ministers favour a less strict approach than the European Parliament, but both those groups must come to an agreement with the European Commission before the so-called Telecoms Package can become law. ®

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