Analysis: Telcos have given EU regulators an offer – or an ultimatum.
Would you rather have an open internet or superfast 5G access? This could be the dilemma facing EU lawmakers as telecoms operators make a quid pro quo appeal for them to cut back regulation.
The documents seen by the Financial Times and signed by 17 telecoms groups, including BT, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telecom Italia, promised to bring 5G access to at least one city in every EU country by 2020.
In exchange, they ask for lighter touch regulation, saying that Net Neutrality guidelines as they stand create "significant uncertainties around 5G return on investment."
How meaningful this offer actually is or how seriously it should be taken is questionable. The specifications of 5G mobile networks have not even been defined yet, and it will be the telcos themselves that do so.
One could also question, when 4G take-up is not even near to 100 percent yet, whether a whole new network infrastructure will be needed only three to four years from now.
In fact, the GSMA has estimated that by 2020 4G take-up in Europe will only be around 60 percent.
This is the carrot, but what about the stick? The coalition suggests that investments will be delayed until this regulation is overhauled.
The EU's current net neutrality rules were adopted on 25 November 2015 and applicable from 30 April 2016.
It is part of the Digital Single Market programme, which "creates the individual and enforceable right for end-users to access and distribute internet content and services of their choice".
Net neutrality means that all traffic must be treated equally by an internet service provider and essentially boils down to the prohibition of a few basic practices. One of these is zero rating, which means that certain services or applications are free to use without a data plan or that traffic on those sites does not count towards data caps.
Others include speeding up or slowing down traffic to particular sites and services, in the first case in exchange for money and in the second to damage rival services.
The idea behind net neutrality is that it will create a level playing field for content providers or app developers, who will not see their product being degraded by a telco it is competing with.
In a fairly competitive market with high investment requirements, however, telcos look to techniques such as zero rating as a way to stay profitable.
The battle between internet provision and net neutrality has not only centred on Europe. Facebook's project, founded as Internet.org, which has now reached 37 countries in Africa, Asia and South America, has faced controversy in India.
Campaigners firmly resisted what was seen as an attack on net neutrality, while Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg accused them of prioritising politics over philanthropy.
Zuckerberg raised the important point that Facebook's might be the only viable internet solution available to some people, leading to the question of whether expanding internet access in a country with only 30 percent coverage is worth violating net neutrality.
In the EU, the dilemma is not quite as stark. An Ofcom report published at the end of 2015 indicated that as of 2014 in most EU nations standard broadband coverage was between 95 and 100 percent, with similar figures for mobile broadband.
As mentioned before, the need for 5G by 2020 is not a given. The actual applications of it have not been demonstrated and there are many other available technologies that can fulfil similar purposes.
In addition to this, it seems implausible that all telecoms companies would completely swear off investment, and that not a single operator would invest in 5G as things currently stand.
While better connectivity can be expected to arrive in one way or another, the principles of net neutrality could fundamentally shape the landscape outside the telecoms industry. If smaller, disruptive technology companies cannot depend on net neutrality they might not be able to innovate.
This could ultimately be more harmful than waiting a few more years for 5G.