Monday, September 29, 2008

Europe embraces an open Internet

I recently returned from a trip to Europe and discovered some interesting thinking there about the Internet. Last week the European Commission launched a debate about whether broadband now needs to be considered part of "universal service." Today, the European Commission’s Information Society and Media department, led by Commissioner Viviane Reding, has published a fascinating paper on the future networks and the Internet. It is only ten pages long, so I'd suggest everyone take a look.

Commissioner Reding identifies many of the key issues facing the net and proposes realistic, pragmatic solutions. Her bottom line is simple: the Internet will thrive only by remaining free and open. And she recognizes that there are a variety of dangers that could close the net.

The Commissioner reiterates the powerful statement she made last June in Seoul at the OECD conference about the need for open networks. This paper restates the danger of internet service providers using their "traffic management" powers "for anti-competitive practices such as unfairly prioritizing some traffic or slowing it down, and, in extreme cases, blocking it." In order to prevent such a negative development, Commissioner Reding suggests legislation is required to ensure that Internet traffic is treated fairly and not blocked or slowed down. I've spoken out about this issue of net neutrality in the U.S.

In the paper, the Commission vows to help forge new copyright solutions to enable new business models to emerge. We're looking closely at this issue.

The paper also makes a compelling case for open standards. It acknowledges the danger of "dominant players" leveraging "proprietary standards to lock consumers into their products or to extract very high royalties from market players, ultimately slowing innovation and foreclosing market entry by new players." She promises that the Commission will use its regulatory powers to prevent such players from putting a brake on the web.

What impresses me most of all is how the Commission recognizes that an Open Internet requires a combination of these three points. For Europe to keep up in the global online race, it needs to sprint ahead powered by an openness recipe encompassing a neutral network, users rights, and open standards. I'm delighted that Europe’s policymakers stress the successful ingredients to promoting a robust, healthy Internet. As usual, I am especially impressed by Commissioner Reding's clarity and energy. If she is successful in this effort, the Internet community in Europe will have much for which to thank her.


Patrick said...


The URL to the document on the European Commission's vision of the future of the Internet has changed.

The right link is here: Communication on future networks and the internet

Best regards,

Patrick Vande Walle

Lauri Tabur said...

It is definitly a bit harder candy for EU to achieve the innovation level of US in the ICT. Sometimes Europe seems to be several times larger in its differences from south to north than US could ever be :-)

Gordon said...

Following on from Patrick's post...

Even better is this link as it puts the Communication in some context:


Gordon Lennox

Robert said...

I am currently
very involved in the Object Management Group (OMG: )
and a new/resurrected group has started on Telecom SOA services. I have
been reading about the Google Phone and the open handset alliance ( ) and I strongly believe that these
two groups should work together to develop and solidify standards for
Telecom SOA Services. I am not sure who or how to contact the right
individuals at the alliance or Google and would appreciate any help you
can provide me.

As a note, OMG standards often move to ISO standards. The next meeting
of the OMG is in Santa Clara, California December 8-12, 2008 and we
would love to have the Open Handset Alliance and/or Google participate.
I am not on the Staff of OMG and can make no promises, but I am sure
that one of these organizations would be warmly received as a keynote

Currently, Nortel has been instrumental in trying to resurrect the
Telecom group within the OMG.

Thank you for your time and consideration
R. W. "Nick" Stavros, Ph.D.

p.s. On September 9, 2008 Microsoft announced they were joining the OMG: