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24% of EU Internet Users Suffer ISP Internet Content Restrictions or Blocking

Thursday, Feb 27th, 2014 (12:21 pm) - Score 809

A new survey of 28,000 Internet using citizens across the European Union (3290 from the UK) has revealed that 24% claim to have been prevented by their broadband ISP or mobile operator from watching videos, listening to music or using other applications of their choice, allegedly due to censorship measures or speed restrictions.

Overall the survey noted that 41% of mobile device users experienced problems watching a video due to speed limits or blocking measures (23% for online music content), which fell slightly to 37% for fixed line home broadband connections.

Elsewhere 23% claimed to have experienced problems while trying to upload content to Facebook, blogs or forums through their mobile device and 19% were hindered while trying to play an online video game. On top of that 9% reported problems when attempting to make Internet-delivered phone calls.

Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission, said:

When you buy an internet subscription you should get access to all content, and you should get it at the speed you have paid for. That is what the open internet should be, and all Europeans should have access to it.”

Sadly the survey doesn’t fully examine whether or not the issues have been caused by a deliberate service restriction or some other connectivity problem. Internet connections can all experience faults and these could easily be confused with intentional restrictions.

However it is noted that 40% of all respondents have experienced an internet connection breakdown and, of those who know their Internet speed (60% of customers said they do NOT know their speed), 26% say that they do not get a speed which matches the terms of their contract. Thankfully the survey does break its results down by country, albeit not by ISP or mobile operator.

In the UK 55% of respondents said they had NEVER experienced difficulties accessing online content and applications due to insufficient speed or downloading capacity, while 43% said they had and 2% didn’t know. Similarly UK respondents were also asked whether they had experienced any kind of blocking of online content or applications and 78% gave a resounding NO, while 20% said yes and 2% didn’t know.

The study appears designed to support the European Commission‘s (EC) proposal for the construction of a new EU Single Telecoms Market (full details), which among other things aims to improve transparency around broadband speeds and to “Safeguard” open Internet access. But some fear that the EU’s measures might equally go against the principal of treating all Internet traffic as equal (Net Neutrality).

In fairness Net Neutrality often fails to reflect the reality of how data traffic is controlled and adjusted in a live network environment, such as when the limited capacity of cheaper services needs to be shared between many users with different needs (i.e. Traffic Management) or content deals for IPTV products. If you want a truly 1:1 uncontended connection then that’s what expensive business leased lines are designed to deliver but most homes could not afford those.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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