Wednesday, May 30, 2012

BEREC: "traffic management and differentiation practices are capable of being used for questionable purposes"

The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) published ".. the results of an investigation into traffic management and other practices resulting in restrictions to the open Internet in Europe". (for background see "The EU Takes its time with Net Neutrality: It is Important, but Let's Monitor and Study First" - here and "BEREC: Blocking/throttling P2P and VoIP with DPI is Frequently Done in Europe" - here).

"The total number of operators considered within the scope of the exercise is 381 - 266 fixed and 115 mobile operators .. The customer base of the respondent operators covers a total of about 140 million fixed broadband subscribers and 200 million mobile active Internet subscribers".

The traffic restrictions reported by the operators are divided into 4 categories:
  1. P2P/VoIP and Other contents/applications (e.g. file sharing, FTP, etc.)
  2. Measures reported by operators as allowing a more efficient protection and management of networks - Congestion management and Security and integrity 
  3. Measures put in place by operators in order to implement specific business models, either concerning the bundling of specialized services with Internet access, or with respect to data volume pricing - Specialised services in fixed networks and Data caps
  4. Restriction that is not at the operators’ initiative, but is required by public authorities (measures upon legal order)

BEREC concludes:
  • Competition is expected to discipline operators, and ensure the best offers for consumers, but this critically relies on effective transparency and the ability of endusers to easily switch service providers.
  • Both NRAs and end users should be able to monitor the performance of the Internet access service, and of the applications used via that Internet access service.
  • Where competition and transparency are inadequate or insufficient to address concerns, existing regulatory tools (including quality of service requirements) should enable NRAs to address net neutrality related concerns for the time being (though not all of these tools have been fully tested yet). NRAs are ready to act without hesitation  if necessary.

See the press release "BEREC publishes net neutrality findings and new guidance for consultation"- here and report - here.

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