EU’s net neutrality will not stop ISPs throttling

Sam_and_Ralph_chokeWhile there are some good things in the EU’s net neutrality laws, they will not stop ISPs throttling those they think are heavy torrent downloaders.

The Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communication (BEREC) published its final guidelines for Europe’s net neutrality rules.

The rules, which are included in the Telecoms Single Market (TSM) regulation, would still allow targeted throttling of torrents and other traffic, by claiming that it is network management.

It says that internet providers are not allowed to offer a “sub Internet” service, where access to only part of the internet is offered for ‘free’.

ISPs are still allowed to throttle specific categories for “reasonable” network management purposes, as the second subparagraph of article 3 reads.

“In order to be deemed to be reasonable, such measures shall be transparent, non-discriminatory and proportionate, and shall not be based on commercial considerations but on objectively different technical quality of service requirements of specific categories of traffic.”

In other words, network management practices, including bandwidth throttling, could possibly target Torrents under a broader file-sharing category, or VPNs as encrypted traffic.

In other words, it would still be possible for ISPs to throttle BitTorrent traffic if that would improve the overall “transmission quality.” This is not a far-fetched argument since torrent traffic can be quite demanding on a network.

Net neutrality activists have said the rules are better than what was being mooted. They were worried that the EU would allow “fast lanes” and these had been banned. This would stop ISPs from throttling everyone and then charging sites or apps for a fast lane.

The new rules mean that ISPs will not have any incentive to throttle and regulators could stop ISPs from throttling in cases where it clearly had nothing to do with preventing future congestion.