Who is against net neutrality

Net neutrality

A free internet is an indispensable component of modern information society and offers space for the individual development of the citizens. Under the heading of "network neutrality", it has been discussed for a number of years whether and, if so, to what extent network operators are allowed to make differences in the transmission of data in their networks. Net neutrality means the unhindered, non-discriminatory transmission of all data packets - regardless of where the data comes from, who is to receive it and what content it has.

Net neutrality: The non-discriminatory transmission of data

Differentiated data transmission is important in order to ensure the provision of quality-sensitive services, for example when parts of the network are temporarily overloaded. Especially for the reception of audiovisual content in real time, a special transmission quality (Quality of Service) is required so that the transmission can take place in an appropriate picture and sound quality. These services can include information and entertainment programs from television stations, but also school lessons or lectures on demand in intelligent education networks. In some cases, guaranteed transmission rates are required for telemedical applications in intelligent health networks.

A legal anchoring of network neutrality must take various aspects into account: Technically, the question arises as to which data traffic control measures are possible and legally permissible in order to cope with increasing amounts of data in telecommunications networks. In economic terms, there are connections to the pricing behavior and investment and innovation processes of companies along the value chain from content producers - via device manufacturers and network operators to end users. In addition, there is a socio-political dimension - because the Internet is space for citizens to develop freely. The freedom and openness of the network are therefore essential criteria for political considerations.

The federal government is clearly committed to net neutrality on the open Internet

The federal government wants to maintain the open Internet and continue to enable quality innovations in the telecommunications sector and has therefore advocated the adoption of a regulation of net neutrality at European level. In August 2016, the federal government decided to change the Telecommunications Act to ensure compliance with the European rules for an open Internet.

European regulation ensures net neutrality in the open Internet for the first time

  • In September 2013, the European Commission presented a proposal for a regulation on measures for the European internal market for electronic communications and for the realization of the networked continent (PDF: 408 KB) (COM (2013) 627 final) (Digital Single Market / DSM- Regulation). This proposal contains, among other things, regulations on net neutrality. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy introduced and represented the agreed German negotiating position (PDF: 281 KB) in the European legislative process so that the same rules apply to all citizens and companies throughout Europe as soon as possible. In June 2015, the European Parliament, the European Council and the European Commission reached an agreement in principle that would ensure net neutrality on the open Internet across Europe for the first time. On October 27, 2015, the European Parliament formally passed the political agreement. Important elements are: The agreement contains a strong principle of equal treatment for all traffic for the open Internet.
  • Network management is only possible in exceptional cases if this is technically necessary or in the case of strictly defined and clearly defined exceptions in the public interest - such as a threat to network security.
  • As before, companies also have the option of transferring bandwidth-sensitive data and applications reliably and with guaranteed quality features.
  • In order not to endanger the open Internet, guard rails are being drawn up for the first time for this transmission of quality-assured services. In particular, these services may only be offered if there is sufficient network capacity.

In addition, the end user gets more rights, which will help to ensure access to content and applications and their general quality. In addition to the right to freedom of choice with regard to the applications and devices that the end user uses, end users should in future also receive better information about realistic transmission speeds of their Internet access.

Adaptation of the TKG in the areas of net neutrality and roaming

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has submitted a draft bill to amend the Telecommunications Act (TKG) (PDF: 58 KB). The TKG thus complies with the new EU regulations on network neutrality and roaming. Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 (PDF: 818 KB) regulates measures for access to the open Internet and contains changes to Regulation (EU) No. 531/2012 (PDF: 920 KB) on roaming in public mobile networks in the Union. Both regulations oblige the member states to adopt effective sanctions. The draft bill serves to implement this obligation. According to this, violations of e.g. orders of the Federal Network Agency to guarantee net neutrality or the transparency obligations of the ordinance will in future be fined. The existing sanctions for violations of the EU roaming regulation are to be adapted in accordance with the changed requirements. The draft law (PDF: 57.2 KB) was passed by the federal government on August 3, 2016.

In the spring of 2017, the European Parliament and the Council finally voted for the abolition of roaming charges: Since June 15, 2017, consumers in other European countries can usually make calls with their own SIM card "like at home", SMS and surf the Internet - without additional roaming surcharges. You can find out more about roaming here.

Expert dialogue on net neutrality: Ensure an open and free Internet

A specialist dialogue by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) contributes to a scientifically sound and factual debate on issues of net neutrality that are important for economic and socio-political issues. The aim of the combined series of studies and workshops was to analyze current developments and identify the need for action in the field of regulation and legislation.

The specialist dialogue was scientifically initiated by Professors Dr. Thomas Fetzer, Dr. Heike Schweitzer and Dr. Martin Peitz (all University of Mannheim and Mannheim Center for Competition and Innovation - MaCCI) accompanied, supported by the Center for European Economic Research (ZEW), Mannheim.

The last 5th specialist dialogue on net neutrality on July 3, 2014 offered over 120 national and international experts from business, science, politics and civil society the opportunity to exchange information on current developments on the subject of net neutrality. The focus of the conference was on ensuring the open and free Internet and dealing with special services.