September 29, 2014 / 10:11 PM / 5 years ago

EU telecoms nominee stands up for net neutrality

BRUSSELS, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Telecoms operators should not be allowed to strike lucrative deals with bandwidth-hungry content providers such as Netflix and Google to provide them with quicker Internet access, the incoming EU telecoms commissioner said on Monday.

Net neutrality, the principle that all internet traffic should be treated equally, has emerged as the main sticking point in discussions on a legislative package to overhaul Europe’s ailing telecoms sector, which Germany’s Guenther Oettinger will inherit from his predecessor Neelie Kroes.

“Net neutrality is a common interest for all users and for all citizens, and additionally in the public interest - emergency cases and so on - there may be an exemption, but not for businesses, not for business cases, therefore we need neutrality for all users,” Oettinger said.

The European Parliament voted in April for strict rules preventing internet service providers from blocking or throttling content to manage the traffic on their networks.

But telecoms operators say that charging for different speeds and services would help them invest in upgrading their networks, an area where Europe lags the United States and Asia.

The German centre-right politician also told members of the European Parliament he would work to ensure roaming fees for using mobile phones across the 28-country bloc come to an end and promised to modernise the EU’s copyright rules to reflect the rise of digital technologies.

He struck a combative note when asked by EU lawmakers on the European Commission’s investigation into Internet giant Google over its competitive practices, saying it ought to be seen as a model case.

“The question is, do we see that as an isolated case or do we see that as nexus of a ‘Google package’” Oettinger said.

His hearing was among the first of a series over the next nine days that could make or break a plan to reshape the 28-nation EU under new management in an effort to revive the economy and regain trust among its half-billion people.

The new team of 28 Commissioners, one from each EU country, includes five former prime ministers. The executive headed by former Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker is due to take over from the current team, led by Portugal’s Jose Manuel Barroso, for a five-year term starting Nov. 1. (Reporting by Julia Fioretti; editing by Andrew Hay)

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