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KPN steps out of line with European Commission neutrality principles

According to local newspapers in the Netherlands, telco KPN plans to challenge the strong net neutrality statements from the European Commission and w

By PETER WHITE

Published: 5 May, 2011

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According to local newspapers in the Netherlands, telco KPN plans to challenge the strong net neutrality statements from the European Commission and will introduce separate data charges for named applications, specifically mentioning What’sApp, a broadband wireless chat program.

Euro Commissioner Neelie Kroes has warned that she will not put up with European operators picking out competitive services and charging more for them, and given that What’sApp competes directly with texting and is being widely used to replace it in the Netherlands, this is perhaps just the war she is looking for. Internet calling through services such as Skype will also be targeted, it is understood.

Kroes specifically highlighted the blocking of Skype as something she would come down hard on, but in this case, instead of blocking it, KPN will charge extra not to Skype, but for the customer to use it. The critical point here is that the charges reflect the loss of revenue because it is a competing service, not the volume of data that video, for instance, would use up. This has yet to be tested under the new European Telecoms framework and Kroes needs to stamp down hard, or every operator in Europe will follow suit.

It has been widely tipped that data caps, defending networks against the most data hungry apps, was the way forward, and providing special tariffs for those apps, but here KPN is targeting rival apps which are data light, and which would easily fit under existing caps.

KPN said more detail will follow shortly and that customers will be very clear on what they can and can’t use in a typical data bundle.

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