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Belgians aim to be third neutral-net nation

Obviously some doubts could be cast on their neutrality

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Belgium could be the second European country after the Netherlands to adopt net neutrality for both fixed and mobile networks. Three political parties have joined forces to launch a proposed law (in Dutch), which they hope will be approved early next year.

If accepted, all internet traffic in Belgium needs to be treated equally, regardless of its type, with one exception: ISPs are still allowed to block heavy traffic from p2p or video services to avoid quality deterioration, as well as heavy-duty traffic from botnets. Charging for rival messaging, or VoIP services, is strictly forbidden. IPTV services through DSL or fibre will not be part of the proposal.

Belgian ISPs, including KPN's Base, are not happy with the proposed laws. They want to introduce low latency internet services for gamers and believe e-health services should be given priority. Under the proposal, these services wouldn't be acceptable.

However, it is unclear if the proposed law will be adopted. At the moment the three parties do not have the majority parliamentary support. More importantly, Belgium has been without a formal government for over a year, breaking a modern-day record that was held by Iraq, and is hamstrung by an inability to take decisive action.

On 22 June, the Dutch Parliament passed a similar law stopping mobile operators from blocking or charging extra for voice calling done via the internet. In 2010, Chile became the first country in the world to guarantee net neutrality. ®

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