Enhanced services

Enhanced services

The principle behind the proposed law is that all internet traffic should be treated equally regardless of its source.

MEPs feared that unless new rules were put in place, internet providers might threaten to slow down traffic from data intensive services - such as video-on-demand and cloud storage - unless the firms behind them paid a fee.

However, the mobile and cable firms have warned that the law would also prevent them from being able to offer enhanced services - for example charging a movie site a fee to ensure that their 4K ultra-high definition films played smoothly on consumers' devices when they might otherwise stutter.

"Whilst we support an open internet, a set of misconceptions about our industry, together with a rushed legislative process and a lack of technical analysis, risk transforming the Connected Continent Regulation into an anti-innovation and anti-consumer choice legislation,"said a joint statement from four trade bodies representing cable and telecom operators.

Netflix supports the principle of net neutrality but has agreed to pay the US's Comcast a fee for enhanced access

"The current draft legislative compromise in the European Parliament reflects very restrictive views on how the internet should work and on how specialised services with enhanced quality could be offered."

Stream safeguards

BT added that the UK's major ISPs currently operated under a voluntary code that promised to treat all traffic consistently, regardless of its source, which already provided "an extremely strong safeguard for the neutrality of the internet".

However, the news is being welcomed by others.

French digital rights campaign group La Quadrature du Net described the vote as being hugely important.

"The EU Parliament made clear that the internet commons should be free of corporate capture, and remain a space where freedom of communication and innovation can thrive," it said.

The BBC also signalled the law could also prove beneficial.

"The open internet remains a key distribution platform for existing offers like BBC iPlayer and innovative new services," said a spokesman.

"New EU laws could help sustain these benefits and be a welcome addition to the safeguards around the successful open internet model in the UK."