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Dutch report Dutch report
by Euro Reporter
2011-07-20 11:06:56
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Dutch telecom hikes rates after net neutrality law

The Netherlands' largest telecommunications company announced big price hikes for mobile Internet customers on Tuesday, less than a month after Parliament approved one of the world's strongest "net neutrality" laws. KPN had posted weak first quarter earnings as its customers with mobile Internet subscriptions flocked to Skype and other Internet-based messaging services, undercutting KPN's own more costly offerings. When the company tried to add a surcharge on competing services, the move backfired. Customers protested loudly and Parliament passed a bill barring companies from hindering competitors or giving preference to their own traffic on mobile networks.

"KPN has decided not to block any services or to set separate rates for different services," the company said in a statement Tuesday. It said its new charges "comply with the forthcoming Dutch legislation and are net neutral." KPN's new deals bundle voice, data and SMS text messaging together in packages that KPN itself says increase the cost of data. As of September, KPN's cheapest advertised price for one gigabyte of mobile data will be as part of a euro50 ($70) per month package, compared with some packages currently available under euro20 ($28) per month that include unlimited data. Net neutrality advocates hailed the Dutch law as a landmark and said it would set an example in Europe, though the EU Commission labeled it "premature."

The EU has ordered member countries to enact less stringent laws by May 2011, but most have yet to do so. The EU guidelines allow telecoms to charge extra for some services, give preference to their own services, or even block rivals entirely, as long as they are open about what they are doing and consumers can easily switch providers. The EU position is that it may be in the interest of competition to allow telecoms leeway to "shape" network traffic, for instance by giving preference to people who are willing to pay more for speed guarantees so they can have reliable streaming video. This is close to current U.S. practice, which is also under debate.

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Dutch expect more tourists despite rain


This July is set to be one of the wettest in Dutch history, but that doesn't seem to be deterring foreign tourists. In fact, the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions expects an increase in the number of foreign visitors compared to last year. On the other hand, the number of Dutch people holidaying in their own country is expected to remain stable after two years of substantial growth.

The board knows from experience that people who have already booked their holiday will go anyway, simply adjusting daily plans for rainy weather. A spokesperson says: “Unfortunately, we do not control the weather, but the sector is quite inventive and knows how to respond.” Most holiday parks and camp sites have extensive experience dealing with bad summer weather.

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Dutch reject EU-US air passenger data plan


The Netherlands objects to agreements between the EU and the United States on the provision of air passenger data. The EU should renegotiate with the US, said Dutch Deputy Justice Minsiter Fred Teeven on Monday.

The US wants to use passenger data for fighting crimes that qualify for a minimum one year prison sentence. They also want to keep data for up to 15 years. The US says they will use the data to better fight terrorism. According to the minister, who is currently in Poland, the existing agreement between the EU and the US does not fall under the definition of “transnational crime.”

The Netherlands itself stores passenger data, however the information relates to crimes that face a four year prison sentence. Additionally, that data is only kept for five years. Other EU countries supported Minister Teveen’s objections. The European Commission must now resume negotiations with the US.



         
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