Friday, November 21, 2014

Norway Regulator Argues Against Zero-Rate Service

The Norwegian regulator, NPT, published its position on Zero Rate services, in view of the Norwegian Net Neutrality guidelines.

Frode Sørensen [pictured], Senior Advisor, analysis is as follows:
  • "Norway has had guidelines on net neutrality since 2009 [here], and these seem to be working well as a regulatory tool to preserve net neutrality for the citizens .. the goal of net neutrality is not that all traffic should be handled identically – which would never be possible in practice. The aim is rather to preserve the Internet as an open platform for communication and avoid discrimination or fragmentation of the Internet.
  • .. In recent years providers in some countries have launched service offers where specific types of traffic are exempt from the data cap
  • The Norwegian guidelines on net neutrality state quite clearly that "Internet users are entitled to an Internet connection that is free of discrimination with regard to type of application, service or content or based on sender or receiver address." This means that in the Norwegian market zero-rating would constitute a violation of the guidelines
  • There are of course arguments in favour of zero-rating that make the method seem quite fair. As consumers, we may find it advantageous that we do not have to pay (extra) for a particular type of traffic. Nevertheless, zero-rating lead to selected traffic from the Internet service provider itself or affiliated providers being favoured above other traffic. And this is exactly the kind of situation net neutrality aims to avoid – allowing the Internet service provider to decide how we use the Internet. Instead, the Internet should remain an open, neutral platform for all types of communication.
  • Internet service providers should use methods other than discrimination of content and/or applications to differentiate their products. One possibility is differentiation on the basis of speed, in line with the Norwegian guidelines on net neutrality
See "Net neutrality and charging models" - here.

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