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Consumers would be more inclined to switch their broadband provider if their use was restricted, a new study has found.

A survey carried out by the Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications, which represents various telecoms regulators from across the European Union, found that any limitation on access to certain internet services, including Skype and other VoIP apps, would increase the likelihood of consumers switching to another provider.

It found that 86 per cent of consumer respondents in Greece, 80 per cent in Croatia, 73 per cent in Czech Republic and 70 per cent in Sweden all agreed with the statement: “If my internet provider decreased the speed for video streaming unless I paid extra, I would switch providers.”

The purpose of the survey was to uncover attitudes towards net neutrality, which is the principle of treating all traffic as equal.

The reality of the industry is rather different, with all data traffic being limited or managed at some point, in many cases as part of an attempt by providers to divert consumers towards their own services.  

The BEREC Report Statement claimed: "The survey results showed that consumers place the highest value on fixed internet access packages that did not include discriminatory traffic management practices.

"This was most clear for packages that restricted video streaming, whose value fell most relative to unrestricted packages.

"This suggests that some obviously undesirable practices – such as restricting access to competing video services in favour of an ISP’s own service – are unlikely to be attractive to consumers, at least at economically viable prices.

"Overall, the research indicates that consumer preferences and consequent ISP incentives will tend to lead to the provision and selection of neutral access to popular internet applications."

However, the emphasis towards net neutrality is not always universal, with a number of customers found to still have a preference for restricted broadband packages, if they came at a reduced price.  

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