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Vodafone (Spain) and UPC (Netherlands) in breach of net neutrality

La Quadrature du Net - For immediate release

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One more breach to Net neutrality in Europe: Time to legislate

*** Paris, November 19th, 2009 - In Spain, the mobile operator Vodafone
is launching a new offer that violates the fundamental principle of Net
neutrality. This is one more evidence that the "Telecoms Package",
recently agreed upon by European lawmakers, fails to protect the
egalitarian nature of the Internet. Urgent action is needed at the
European level to enforce Net neutrality once and for all. ***

Only a few weeks after the Dutch Internet service provider UPC decided
to discriminate Internet traffic [1], Vodafone announced yesterday [2]
that it will prioritize Internet access for its mobile subscribers who
are ready to pay an extra fee when the 3G network is congested. This
means that instead of equally sharing the network capacity between all
users, Vodafone will discriminate against the subscribers who do not pay
the extra fee, and deliberately slow them down. Such a business model
based on organizing a scarcity of resource instead of investing in more
infrastructure is in total contradiction with the nature of Internet as
we know it [3].

While mobile operators face greater capacity constraints than fixed-line
Internet providers, reasonable network management practices must be
narrowly defined to exclude such abusive and discriminatory practices.
This is yet another breach to network neutrality, which proves that mere
political statements [4] will not suffice to protect citizens against
arbitrary restrictions of their access to the Internet. Strong
regulation is needed to guarantee this founding principle of the
Internet [5].

"Vodafone's new business model is based on traffic discrimination and
clearly violates Net neutrality, which is the very essence of the
Internet as we know it. Whereas the United States is on the verge of
mandating Net neutrality to both fixed and wireless Internet operators,
European lawmakers have left the door open to discriminatory practices
by failing to do the same in the Telecoms Package. Vodafone's
announcement shows that business-models based on the discrimination,
filtering or prioritization of information flows can flourish in the
current regulatory environment. We need strong legal protections aimed
at ensuring that the Internet remains an open and egalitarian
communications platform.", concludes Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson
for the advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.

* Références *

1. See Dutch ISP heralds end of net neutrality, V3.co.uk:
2. During the Idate conference held this week in Montpellier, France:
3. It could lead to an even more dangerous type of discrimination
between service and application providers. See this policy brief by Free
Press regarding the harmful effects of prioritization:
4. Such as the European Commission's soon-to-be declaration on Net
5. See our 22-page dossier Protecting Net Neutrality in Europe:

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