Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ofcom Plans to "Monitoring approaches to traffic management" in 2012/13

Ofcom, the UK regulator, published its "Draft Annual Plan 2012/13" (here). The plan has strategic purposes, shown in the chart below. Each purpose has priority items, such as "Promote competition and investment in the delivery of superfast broadband", releasing analogue TV spectrum and "Promote effective choice for consumers by ensuring that clear information on service, price and quality is available".

In addition, the draft plan has "other work areas" for the strategic purposes. Under "Help communications markets work for consumers" Ofcom says it plans to "Monitoring approaches to traffic management to ensure innovation for consumers", 

The latter follows the recent Ofcom's publication on Net Neutrality (here), and the draft plan is:
  1. In the publication Ofcom’s Approach to Net Neutrality in November2011, we set out our position on net neutrality and traffic management. In particular, we provided our views on the level of consumer information which we want to see the market deliver, and also the potential circumstances which might warrant the development of a minimum quality of service. We are committed to undertaking further research on consumer information. We appreciate the importance of finding a balance between providing the right type of information and ensuring it is targeted and clear, and overloading consumers with too much information, resulting in consumer confusion. We will also undertake research on the provision of ‘best-efforts’8 internet access.
  2. We will monitor progress, and keep under review the possibility of intervening more formally in relation to the issues we have identified. We will do so as part of our ongoing work, within the context of our infrastructure reporting duty, to monitor traffic management practices. We expect to publish our next update on this work in summer 2012.
  3. We will also continue to engage with stakeholders to identify market developments that might hinder or support the co-existence of ‘best-efforts’ internet and managed services. Based on this research and engagement, we will assess whether any further regulatory action is necessary. We will continue to engage in the European debate and contribute to ongoing BEREC work on transparency, discrimination, quality of service and IP interconnection.
The draft plan is subject to a consultation process (here). 

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