Thursday, December 13, 2012

BEREC: “What regulators can do in order to promote net neutrality?”

The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) found in May that "traffic management and differentiation practices are capable of being used for questionable purposes" (here).

Concluding that this is a bad thing, and Network Neutrality may help avoid such behavior, BEREC published several suggestions to regulators on how to promote Net Neutrality.

BEREC announced it has "..adopted an Overview and a Summary of BEREC’s approach to net neutrality at the BEREC Plenary on 6 December 2012 .. The Overview provides a concise description of three years of BEREC’s activities in the field of net neutrality. It summarizes briefly how the Internet works and presents findings related to retail and wholesale relationships and observations in the context of net neutrality. Furthermore, the paper presents what regulators can do in order to promote net neutrality. More specific explanations are available in the “Summary of BEREC positions on net neutrality”.

The "Overview of BEREC’s approach to net neutrality" (here) lists "What regulators can do in order to promote net neutrality": 
  • Strengthening competition - Regulators have powers under the regulatory framework to promote effective competition through the imposition of price, access and non-discrimination obligations on operators .. Transparency (of terms and conditions) is necessary in order for competition to effectively discipline market players in this way – end-users must have access to information about available offers on the market, so that they can identify unrestricted Internet access service offers (providing access to all applications available on the Internet) as well as any limitations that apply to restricted offers ..
  • Monitoring - . .. regulators continuously monitor the quality of Internet offers on the market, as well as the evolution of the market as a whole.
  • Using additional powers, e.g. on quality of service, when necessary .. These requirements could take the form of minimum statistical QoS levels (where an Internet access service is being degraded) and/or a prohibition on blocking and throttling (where a particular application is being throttled or blocked). In either case, BEREC believes this power should be used with caution, and typically only where other regulatory tools are unable to make a sufficient impact quickly enough.
See "BEREC has adopted two summaries and the updated reports on net neutrality" - here.

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