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Holland's net neutrality act threatens to disrupt mobile carriers' pricing schemes

Zachary Lutz

Net neutrality advocates are gaining momentum in The Hague as Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs, Maxime Verhagen, agreed to begin drafting legislation prohibiting teleco providers from blocking or charging extra for specific data traffic. Verhagen's action comes at the request of majority leaders in Netherland's Lower House, which adopted a motion to modify the Telecommunications Act in support of bit equality. The change should cause waves throughout the nation's mobile industry as Holland's largest provider, KPN, recently announced it would use deep packet inspection to monitor and selectively charge customers based on their usage. Currently, Vodafone blocks VoIP unless customers pay extra and T-Mobile has previously suggested it might follow suit.

The Economic Minister is now working with officials in Brussels to ensure the legislation is compatible with the EU framework, and the proposal is expected to go before the Dutch parliament within a few weeks. Skype and WhatsApp have received particular attention, as mobile providers argue they must offset the losses caused by these apps with surcharges -- or to block them altogether. Perhaps it's not the best week to be a telco exec in the Netherlands, but users of these "controversial" apps surely have reason to smile.

[Image courtesy Flickr]

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