Study for the IMCO Committee, IP/A/IMCO/2014-02, December 2014

EU-Parliament: Comparative Study on Net Neutrality in EU and in US

On 19 December 2014, the EU-Parliament's Policy Department A has published the comparative study "Network Neutrality Revisited: Challenges and Responses in the EU and in the US" prepared by J. Scott Marcus at the request of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO). The study provides background on the debate over network neutrality, including (1) its technological, economic, and public policy aspects, and (2) the implications for European public policy going forward, including the position of the EU-Parliament on the Telecoms Single Market Regulation that was adopted in the first reading of the EU-Parliament in April 2014. The Study also includes a comparison between the US, where these issues continue to be debated intensely, and the EU.


The study first provides background on the many different definitions of network neutrality and their key reflections which are visible on both sides of the Atlantic.

A Technological View of Network Neutrality

The study then the network neutrality discussion's focus on blocking of traffic, and on prioritisation of traffic, to or from specific destinations or applications.

An Economic View of Network Neutrality

The study then explores three distinct economic views of network neutrality, based on

  • quality and price discrimination,
  • two-sided markets, and
  • economic foreclosure.

The first two of these suggest that non-neutrality is positive or neutral to consumers and suppliers, while the third says that it can under some circumstances be harmful.

Harms and Benefits Associated with Network Neutrality Deviations

The study then expounds how big a problem net neutrality actually is in reality drawing from its implications for consumer welfare and o fundamental freedoms in an increasingly digital world.

Stakeholder views on network neutrality

The study then contrasts the various Stakeholder views on network neutrality beginning with the approach by the EU-Commission.

Markets and Regulation in the U.S. and in the EU

A highlight of the study is the comparison of markets and regulation in the U.S. and in the EU.

Reflections for the EU-Parliament to Consider Going Forward

The study concludes that actual network neutrality incidents still appear to be rare and that preventive measures for threats that may or may not appear risk doing more harm than good. In an effort to help finding a future proof solution, the study identifies 10 key questions likely to emerge in the course of negotiations between Council and Parliament.

Chapters of the Study

The main chapters of the study are as follows:

  • 1. Introduction, p. 17
  • 2. Technical Principles Underlying Quality Differentiation in the Internet, p. 22
  • 3. Economic Priniples Underlying Quality Differentiation, p. 35
  • 4. Public Policy Principles Underlying Quality Differentiation, p. 43
  • 5. Stakeholder Views on Network Neutrality, p. 58
  • 6. Differences between the US and the EU, p. 83
  • 7. Findings and Reflections for Consideration, p. 101

"Network Neutrality Revisited: Challenges and Responses in the EU and in the US", Study by J. Scott Marcus


Verlag Dr. Otto Schmidt vom 08.01.2015 14:32

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