Friday, July 27, 2012

What does the EU Want to Know about Traffic Management?

The European Commission launched a public consultation " .. seeking answers to questions on transparency, switching and certain aspects of internet traffic management, with a view to its commitment to preserve the open and neutral character of the Internet. These questions have emerged as key issues in the "net neutrality" debate that has taken place in Europe over the past years, including the recent findings of the Body of European Regulators of European Communications (BEREC)".

See "BEREC: 'traffic management and differentiation practices are capable of being used for questionable purposes'" - here.

Neelie Kroes (pictured; see "It's not OK for Skype and other such services to be throttled" - here), European Commission VP said: "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. Input from this consultation will help turn BEREC's findings into practical recommendations".

Some examples for questions that are part of the consultation (here):  

  • Please explain briefly which traffic management techniques are usually applied by network operators or ISPs and how they are technically implemented
  • If possible, please provide a  definition and  examples of  genuine congestion management measures, i.e. measures which are  necessary to  avoid or  tackle  network congestion, as  opposed to measures which may be called congestion management  but actually pursue other purpose
  • Please give examples of "new business models" which could be developed on the basis of managed services (see "European ISPs Suggest New Internet Business Models"- here
  • It appears that the implementation of traffic management measures requires ISPs to analyse certain information  about individual data packets, for instance by deep packet inspection (DPI) techniques. 
  • Please explain which type of information needs to be read by ISPs to implement the different traffic management measures. In which layer can this information normally be found?
  • Are there any privacy risks arising from the use of DPI for traffic management purposes, and, if so, what are the implications for transparency and consumer protection?
  • Some ISPs currently apply 'fair use policies', which give them wide discretion to apply restrictions on traffic generated by users whose usage they consider excessive. Do you consider that, in case of contractual restrictions of data consumption, quantified data allowances (e.g. monthly caps of x MB or GB) are more transparent for consumers than discretionary fair use clauses?

  • See "Digital Agenda: Commission opens public consultation on preservation of the open internet (net neutrality)" - here and here.
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