Nearly one in four European internet users said they have experienced blocking of content or applications by their service provider, while four out of ten had experienced difficulties due to download capacity. These are among the findings of a survey of 28,000 people across the European Union, which is seeking to establish regulations to ensure an open internet across Europe.
The representative survey across 28 member states found that 24% had experienced blocking of online content or applications when using their household internet subscription, while 39% had experienced difficulties accessing online content and applications due to insufficient speed or download capacity, rising to 43% for those using the internet with a mobile device.
The survey showed that 60% of users did not know their internet speed. Of the remainder that did, 26% said the actual speed delivered does not match the terms of their contract.
Among around a thousand respondents from the United Kingdom, 65% did not know maximum download rate in megabits per second under the terms of their contract. Of those that did, 28% said their connection did not match the terms of their contract. Only 50% of respondents said their internet connection never breaks down. 29% said they were aware of data consumption limits on their contract, while a further 21% were aware there were limits but did not know what they were. 43% said they had experienced difficulties accessing online content and applications due to insufficient download capacity. 20% said they had experienced blocking of online content or applications. The majority of these were associated with streaming video or downloading video, including using peer to peer networks.
“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,” said European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes.
“My goal is to protect consumers by guaranteeing an open internet across Europe and by giving them new rights and transparency regarding their internet connection,” she said. My goal is also to protect innovation, so that anyone can innovate on the open internet and alongside the internet without harming it. This would ultimately promote more competition and choice for the benefit of consumers.”
The proposed Connected Continent Regulation aims at a single market for internet and communications across the European Union.
The proposal would requiring operators to provide their customers with accurate information about the speed and quality of the internet service they provide. It would end discriminatory blocking and throttling and deliver effective protection of the open internet. It sets out clear rules regarding traffic management, which would only be allowed in specific circumstances, including the provision of high-definition video services.
The Eurobarometer special survey 414 covered consumer perception of internet speed and service provision. It was conducted by a TNS consortium through face-to-face interviews in homes with 28,000 consumers across Europe in January and February 2014.