WASHINGTON – The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), in a filing on behalf the U.S. government, urged the European Commission to promote affordable access to broadband, protect users’ access to online content, and avoid discriminatory measures that distort competition.
The U.S. filing on May 19 is in response to the European Commission’s exploratory consultation on The Future of the Electronic Communications Sector and its Infrastructure. The consultation explores, among other questions, how to promote connectivity and ensure affordable access to broadband. It also seeks input on whether certain large content and applications companies should pay to maintain, secure and expand telecommunications networks in the EU, either via direct payments to European Internet service providers or through another mechanism.
The United States shares the goal of promoting reliable, fast, and secure connectivity for all. The filing explains the U.S. approach to financing the deployment of high-speed broadband service and closing the digital divide. It highlights the U.S. approach to expanding connectivity to rural and other underserved areas.
The filing also warns of some of the risks involved in mandating direct payments from content and application providers to telecom operators, noting that, if implemented in the EU, this particular approach could:
- Give telecom operators a new bottleneck that could be used to increase control over their customers;
- Raise costs for consumers and small businesses; and
- Create distortions in the Internet ecosystem.
It is also difficult to understand how a system of mandatory payments imposed on only a subset of content providers could be enforced without undermining net neutrality.
The United States appreciates the European Commission’s consideration of stakeholder views as it develops its policy approach, given the global importance of the questions raised. Furthermore, the United States looks forward to engaging with the European Union and stakeholders from the United States, Europe, and around the world on the critical issue of how best to promote network accessibility, stability, and security.
About the National Telecommunications and Information Administration
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is the Executive Branch agency that advises the President on telecommunications and information policy issues. NTIA’s programs and policymaking focus largely on expanding broadband Internet access and adoption in America, expanding the use of spectrum by all users, advancing public safety communications, and ensuring that the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth.