Commission consults on net neutrality
By Manon Malhère | Monday 23 July 2012
Internet traffic management is one of the main aspects of a consultation on the ‘open internet’ (‘net neutrality’), which was launched by the European Commission on 23 July. The consultation also includes questions for the interested parties on transparency and switching to other providers
The results will help the institution to draw up relevant recommendations, probably in 2013. The Commissioner in charge of the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, confirmed this: “Today there is a lack of effective consumer choice when it comes to internet offers. I will use this consultation to help prepare recommendations that will generate more real choices and end the net neutrality waiting game in Europe”.
The rules for telecoms (2009 telecoms package) aim to preserve the principle of the neutral and open character of the internet through measures ensuring transparency, technological neutrality and anti-discrimination. According toFramework Directive 2009/140/EC, the national telecoms regulators must promote “the ability of end users to access and distribute information or run applications and services of their choice”.
But this framework appears to be insufficient, namely when it comes to traffic management requested by operators and internet access providers in order to ensure a minimum quality of services when networks are saturated.
In conclusions published in late May, the Body of European Regulators of European Communications (BEREC) shows that some operators and internet access providers block or slow down certain services. These practices can cause problems for end users, BEREC points out.
In its consultation, the Commission asks about the techniques used by network operators and internet access providers to manage traffic in case of congestion, highlighting the situations in which this management should take place. The services managed are also broached.
The second focus is on transparency, in particular questions on real internet performance (speed and quality) as well as on the terms, for consumers, of switching operators (for example, the main obstacles to this switch and more specifically factors that can discourage consumers). Lastly, the Commission is dedicating a third part to internet interconnection issues between network operators, access providers, transit providers and content providers.(1) The consultation is available at ec.europa.eu/information_society/digital-agenda/actions/oit-consultation/index_en.htm