[A2k] Turncoat EU Parliament Gives Up on Defending Free Wireless Communications

La Quadrature du Net jz at laquadrature.net
Wed Nov 9 03:26:53 PST 2011

La Quadrature du Net - For immediate release

Permanent link: http://www.laquadrature.net/en/turncoat-eu-parliament-gives-up-on-defending-free-wireless-communications

Turncoat EU Parliament Gives Up on Defending Free Wireless Communications

*** Paris, November 9th, 2011 — In discussions on the future of wireless communications policies, the EU Parliament is giving in to Member States by accepting a watered-down version [1] of the Radio Spectrum Policy Programme. Last Spring, the Parliament had made very constructive proposals in favour of open spectrum policies, calling [2] for citizen-controlled wireless communications. Sadly, the first major effort to harmonise spectrum policy in Europe is being held back by EU governments' conservatism and the Parliament's surrender. ***

On Thursday, the EU Parliament's Industry committee (ITRE) is expected to finalise debates on the first European Radio Spectrum Policy Programme [3], by accepting national governments' bad amendments [4] to the text. Member States are refusing any binding EU-wide policy to free up radio waves and encourage citizen uses of the spectrum. [5] By doing so, they are holding back real competition, intense innovation, and enhanced wireless access to the Internet. The obvious beneficiaries of such government control over this crucial public resource are dominant telecom operators, who will be able to consolidate their control on airwaves.

The Parliament entered negotiations with a strong call in favour of opening up spectrum to innovators and entrepreneurs. In the Spring, MEPs had adopted [6] important amendments calling the Commission and Member States to authorise the creation of “super Wi-Fi” networks by giving unlicensed access [7] to so-called “white spaces” (bands of frequencies left unused by broadcasters [8]). This would have allowed for more affordable and open wireless Internet access, which is currently undermined by the harmful restrictions imposed by telecom operators [9].

“As the European Council proposed a bad compromise, the Parliament didn't fight and gave in, renouncing to defend citizens' interest. Just as the United States moves closer to establishing a comprehensive framework for open wireless communications [10], the EU will be lagging behind because of the Parliament's lack of political courage and our governments' conservatism. The EU is missing an opportunity to foster the development of a decentralised wireless Internet, boost innovation and help bridge the digital divide, and instead plays into the hands of dominant telecom operators who attempt to control wireless communications.”, said Félix Tréguer, policy and legal analyst for La Quadrature du Net.

* References *

1. See: http://www.laquadrature.net/files/RSPP_after_Coreper_28.10_for_the_EP.pdf

2. See: http://www.laquadrature.net/en/eu-parliament-calls-for-free-wireless-communications

3. See: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/file.jsp?id=5872922

4. See the compromise version of the RSPP: http://www.laquadrature.net/files/RSPP_after_Coreper_28.10_for_the_EP.pdf

5. See our analysis of the compromise amendments on open spectrum: http://www.laquadrature.net/wiki/RSPP_Compromise
   Member States deleted "unlicensed" and introduced the wording "where appropriate" in a very important amendment, thereby rendering it non-binding and ineffective.

6. See: https://www.laquadrature.net/en/eu-parliament-adopts-open-wireless-communications-policy

7. See “The Spectrum of our Freedoms”: http://www.laquadrature.net/en/the-spectrum-of-our-freedoms

8. See Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_spaces_%28radio%29 
   For recent experiments on the potential of these frequencies, see: http://www.broadbandtvnews.com/2011/09/27/cambridge-white-space-trial-runs-hd-iplayer/

9. See the "Respect My Net" platform for Net neutrality violation reporting: http://respectmynet.eu/list/

10. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/11/07/white_space_database/

** About la Quadrature du Net **

La Quadrature du Net is an advocacy group that promotes the rights and freedoms of citizens on the Internet. More specifically, it advocates for the adaptation of French and European legislations to respect the founding principles of the Internet, most notably the free circulation of knowledge. 

In addition to its advocacy work, the group also aims to foster a better understanding of legislative processes among citizens. Through specific and pertinent information and tools, La Quadrature du Net hopes to encourage citizens' participation in the public debate on rights and freedoms in the digital age.

La Quadrature du Net is supported by French, European and international NGOs including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Open Society Institute and Privacy International.

List of supporting organisations: https://www.laquadrature.net/en/they-support-la-quadrature-du-net

** Press contact and press room **

Jérémie Zimmermann, jz at laquadrature.net, +33 (0)615 940 675


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