With over 93,000 comments and counting, EU telecom regulators' consultation on net neutrality has received unprecedented attention from concerned EU citizens. The campaign SaveTheInternet.eu is making a final push this week in a bid to reach 100,000 comments.
The activists at SaveTheInternet.eu, an international coalition of NGOs campaigning for net neutrality, have one more week to make their voice heard: the EU must protect net neutrality. Their message is targeted at BEREC, the Body of Regulators for Electronic Communications, which is drafting new guidelines on net neutrality. With the 18/07 deadline approaching rapidly, the Telecom industry has also joined the fray by unveiling their own plans for a restricted internet.
SaveTheInternet.eu’s fight for net neutrality has been fought on many fronts, and with many different allies. Their actions have included a public street demonstration with hundreds of participants, and the ‘EU slowdown’ protest with over 7,000 websites joining the ‘EU Slowdown’, over 40,000 faxes sent to the European Parliament and hundreds of phone calls by citizens to their representatives. Academics and tech companies have also supported the cause with open letters and public statements.
This broad coalition is facing off against one main adversary: big telecoms providers. Last week, an association of the 17 biggest EU ISPs unveiled their "5G manifesto", in which they called net neutrality rules to be watered down. On the basis of dubious arguments and analysis, they claim that a free and open internet threatens investment in new 5G networks. In reality, all available evidence points to the fact that net neutrality, by preventing anti-competitive behaviour, actually *encourages* infrastructure investment (See "European telecoms groups unveil 5G manifesto" / Financial Times and "Network slicing could ‘enable’ net neutrality, not work against it" / Telecom.tv).
5G technologies allow ISPs a completely new level of control over the mobile internet. This makes net neutrality protection even more important for the continued functioning of the internet as a driving force for innovation. The only economic argument from the telecom industry is their desire for profits from vertical integration. Thereby, the big telco manifesto confirms the worst fears of net neutrality proponents, namely that wide-scale interference with online competition will follow when the level playing field of the internet is no longer protected. (See "5G Manifesto for timely deployment of 5G in Europe")
"If ISPs really want to cover the costs of the 5G rollout with net neutrality violations, our worst fears must have been an understatement.", says Thomas Lohninger, activist at SaveTheInternet.eu. "The 17 biggest telecom companies on the continent have aligned behind this attack on net neutrality and EU commissioner Oettinger has joined their ranks by endorsing and re-publishing their manifesto (see Tweet and Press Release).
While the Commission has clearly sided with industry, SaveTheInternet.eu is giving a voice to the European public . We need to show BEREC how broad, diverse and passionate the support for net neutrality in Europe is. It's not consumers vs businesses, or regulation vs competition; it's the telecoms industry versus everyone else.”
One month into the consultation, the response has already reached unprecedented levels. BEREC's previous consultations received 19 responses on average, and their most popular consultation received only 72. The SaveTheInternet.eu campaign has blown these numbers out of the water by generating over 93,000 comments to the regulators, driving home the unique importance of net neutrality to the European public. With the consultation closing on July 18th, SaveTheInternet.eu wants to go out with a bang by breaking the magic number of one hundred thousand contributions.