On 27 October 2015, the European Parliament adopted the new Telecoms Single Market legislation without a number of proposed amendments relating to net neutrality. As a result, while the Regulation requires Internet service providers (“ISPs”) to “treat all traffic equally, without discrimination, restriction or interference, independently of its sender or receiver, content, application or service, or terminal equipment,” it provides for the following exceptions to this principle:
- ISPs may offer “specialised services” (e.g., IPTV, high-definition videoconferencing and healthcare services) to the extent that this does not have an impact on the general Internet quality.
- ISPs may decide not to count capacity used in connection with certain sites or applications towards a consumer’s capacity usage (“zero rating”), subject to a non-discrimination obligation.
- ISPs may implement reasonable traffic management measures based on the “different technical quality of service requirements of specific categories of traffic.” These measures should not be based on commercial considerations.
- ISPs will be able to impose traffic management measures to prevent “impending network congestion”.
The four rejected amendments related to these exceptions: network discrimination, equal treatment of all Internet traffic, the potential role of ISPs as gatekeepers, and the use of traffic management other than in connection with congestion.