Principle 1: Net neutrality as fundamental axiom
The regulatory authority is committed to an open Internet, with low barriers to entry, in which every end user and content and application provider (CAP) can:
- send and receive contents of their choice;
- provide and use services and applications of their choice; and
- use terminal devices (hardware) and programs (software) of their choice.
This can only be guaranteed by equal treatment for all data packets: in other words, by net neutrality. “Net-neutral” practices are therefore to be regarded as positive in principle. Together with the best-effort principle (equal availability to end users and services of adequate bandwidth on ISPs’ network), the broad adherence to neutrality apparent in Austria both now and in the past has been, and remains, a necessary condition for the Internet to provide a unique platform for communication, innovation and the free expression of opinion. Low barriers to Internet market entry guarantee the development of new applications and services, and thus also innovation and competition.
Nevertheless, since some deviations from net neutrality may actually have positive implications for end users, an ex-ante rejection of all deviations would be inappropriate. On the other hand, some deviations are overwhelmingly likely to have predominantly adverse effects, especially for end users and CAPs. As a result, other principles are needed that can be applied in the event of deviations.