Saturday 01 April 2023

EU internet toll plan will lead to consumer paying twice: Dutch minister

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The Dutch cabinet is opposed to European plans to give telecom companies the power to levy an extra charge on streaming and other services because it would mean consumers paying twice, economic affairs minister Micky Adriaansens has confirmed.

Telecom companies want to charge services such as Netflix and Spotify fees for using their networks and, they say, the extra income will be spent on new 5G digital infrastructure. The European Commission has backed the plan and started a consultation process last week.

Adriaansens, however, says research indicates the charge will mainly be passed on to subscribers who will end up paying twice for the same service.

The debate, according to an English summary of the ministry’s position, is ‘framed as a battle between telecom operators and online service providers, whereas the debate should really be centered around the interests of consumers and businesses.’

The minister bases her claim on a report by economic research bureau Oxera which suggests a European ‘toll’ would not lead directly to extra investment. In addition, the report suggests, telcos have omitted crucial information resulting in a misrepresentation of facts.

Moreover, the minister said, the Netherlands and other EU countries consider the plan conflicts with net neutrality guidelines established in 2015, which state that telcos cannot block or delay internet traffic or levy additional fees for extra services.

‘All in all, the cabinet does not think this is the right way to realise Europe’s digital ambitions,’ she said. ‘It’s imperative that any policy affecting the Internet ecosystem is evidence-based and is putting the consumer first.’

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