Two reports are currently hitting the headlines on a topic that has cropped up time and again in the past - but never were the warnings louder or the threat more acute. The issue is net neutrality, which till recently ensured that we all travel at the same speed on the data superhighway, with no separate fast lanes for privileged surfers. This democratic model has now started to show the first cracks, since the Federal Communications Commission recently overturned the net neutrality regulations in the United States. While many users perceive this as a personal setback, in broader terms it could turn the essence of the Internet upside down for good. Although there are similar concerns in Germany, the line adopted by the Federal Network Agency seems to adhere to the original egalitarian principle. Its decision regarding Deutsche Telekom's "StreamOn" add-on service also seems to run in this direction.
"StreamOn" does not count any of the audio or video data streamed exclusively from the company's content partners toward subscribers' data allowance. This component of "MagentaMobil" cellphone tariffs is to be banned in the future. The decision was reached so as to safeguard the roaming and net neutrality enshrined in European guidelines. "Deutsche Telekom can continue to offer StreamOn, but its structure needs some modification in the interest of consumers," explains Jochen Homann, President of the Federal Network Agency. "StreamOn must comply with the principle of 'roam like at home' and customers must be able to access full bandwidth for uncompromised video streaming. In the interest of customers, we are ensuring that StreamOn complies with the guidelines on roaming and net neutrality." He adds that "The notion of egalitarianism forms a cornerstone of the European guidelines on net neutrality. This principle has turned the Internet into an engine of innovation. The wide range of applications and services benefits all consumers. Prohibiting speed limits for video streaming both ensures the Internet’s diversity and supports the efforts of video-streaming suppliers to provide high-resolution services."
Bundesnetzagentur für Elektrizität, Gas, Telekommunikation, Post und Eisenbahnen (D-53113 Bonn)