“A free and open Internet: BASE Company is the first to promote it! – An Internet without restrictions and open to everyone: who would think of opposing it? – An Internet that allows everyone to benefit from the offers that suit them: the future.”
This is what we said a few weeks ago to express our position on net neutrality. Something we are not afraid to say (http://bit.ly/1gnfXgb). Now that Europe has taken a position on the subject, we are saying it again.
For BASE Company, net neutrality isn’t only a fundamental right, but a real democratic, cultural and economic stake: every citizen must be free to access the information they want to. Everyone must also have the same right to distribute and send information over the Internet: a neutral net is fundamental for the innovation and creation of economic and cultural value! (http://www.karinelalieux.be/)
BASE Company is therefore very satisfied with the agreement reached between the European Council, European Parliament and European Commission concerning the draft regulation on net neutrality. It is balanced and meets our expectations in the interest of all parties.
However, contrary to what some say, this isn’t a victory for the operators. It is a victory and a step forward for European consumers and innovation in the digital economy in the 28 member states. Everyone is now familiar with the legal framework in which we are playing, and within this framework, we can think hard about new services, new ideas and new digital innovations. All this under the attentive eye of the national regulators and BEREC. This text also has the advantage of harmonising the rules in all 28 member states and creating a common digital space in the European Union.
No blocks, no obstacles, complete access to all content
As provided for in the draft regulation, the operator cannot block or slow down access to the Internet without a major or a technical reason. BASE Company has always said that it was out of the question to implement such practices. We don’t block any content (except in the case of a judicial decision or duly justified network congestion) and we don’t slow down any access to any site or specific application. As we have often said, we believe in an open Internet, which is a source of growth both from a social point of view and an economic one.
Offers adapted to all consumer demands
Consumers have a whole variety of different needs according to their profile. Their financial status is rarely identical. This is why operators offer and wish to continue to offer their consumers a varied range of offers which correspond to their usage. Some operators provide unlimited mobile Internet packages, others packages which are limited in volume, while others still have offers that allow users to surf for free on some websites. This commercial diversity will automatically lead to the emergence of new players, content and applications. It will stimulate the market and pull it upwards.
BEREC has indeed confirmed that these different offers (unlimited, limited, zero rating/free for some sites) are in the interest of consumers and not counter to net neutrality. Who might oppose these innovations and this diversity? Who might oppose the appearance of new local players who could find their niche on the Internet? The Internet doesn’t discriminate: it is open to everyone, according to each individual’s needs and desires, and BASE Company will continue to provide this range of offers in the interest of consumers.
Innovation on the move with a multitude of offers under the aegis of both European and national regulators
The draft regulation provides the chance – and this is a very good thing – to offer specialised services, offers adapted to the consumers who want them. On this basis, telecommunications operators and Internet access providers will therefore be able to offer their consumers specialised services and access, such as the @-health services, without discriminating against their other consumers. For these services, as for others whose existence we aren’t yet aware of, this draft regulation opens the door to all ideas and all innovations. In a sector that is evolving as quickly as the telecommunications sector, and of which no one knows what it will be like tomorrow, operators have always asked to have a legislative and regulatory environment which is based in the long term. This draft regulation, negotiated between the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission, is heading in this direction. But this doesn’t mean that the door is open to all sorts of abuses. The draft regulation explicitly states that BEREC, the European regulator, as well as the national regulators (IBPT for Belgium), will play a key role in ensuring that net neutrality is respected. BASE Company has every confidence in IBPT to play this role of regulator, to control and ban, if necessary, any illegal behaviour counter to net neutrality. BASE Company has always sought a strong and independent national regulator. In this case, as in the others, we are maintaining our position.
BASE Company therefore welcomes this draft regulation and hopes that it will soon be adopted, both by the European Parliament and the Council. This is the beginning of a new digital age, both for the European Union and for Belgium, and a source of creative innovation and innovation in the interest of all consumers.