According to a publication which sought to analyse a recent report titled ‘The Net Neutrality Situation in the EU’, the conclusion has been drawn that zero-rating business practices by wireless carriers have led to an increase in the cost of wireless data compared to countries without zero-rating practices.
The report published by the non-profit Epicenter.works compared 30 EU member countries on the enforcement of net neutrality. It was found that EU countries without zero-rating practices enjoyed a double digit drop in the price of wireless data after a year. The countries with zero-rating practises from their wireless carriers on the other hand saw data prices increase.
Source: Epicenter.works study analysing price changes between countries with and without zero-rating practices.
The Internet’s success lies in its design, which is based on the principle of net neutrality. From the outset, the flow of all the content on the Internet was treated without discrimination. New entrepreneurs did not need permission or market power to innovate on the Internet. With the development of new digital services, especially the ones consuming high bandwidth such as high-quality video streaming, some Internet operators (telecom companies and ISPs) started prioritising certain traffic – such as their own services or the services of their business partners – based on business needs and plans, justifying such an approach with a need to raise funds to further invest in the network. Net neutrality proponents strongly fight back such plans arguing this could limit open access to information and online freedoms, and stifle online innovation.
Internet access is growing rapidly, yet large groups of people remain unconnected to the Internet. As of 2015, about 43% of people had access to the Internet (in developing countries only 34%). Access to ICTs is part of the Sustainable Development Agenda, which commits to ‘significantly increase access to ICTs and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020’ (Goal 9.c).