17 May, 2018

Net Neutrality and BEREC guidelines: ensuring compliance and innovation

Experts from Europe’s leading telecom and cable operators have analysed the BEREC Guidelines on the Open Internet Regulation (EU 2015/2120). We summarise here the main findings from the joint ETNO, GSMA and Cable Europe evaluation (full version available here).

As network operators across the Continent are currently busy developing and deploying the next generation of digital networks, is BEREC’s guidance on implementing the Open Internet Regulation affecting such plans? If so, which current or potential effects is it having on the Gigabit Society plans, on user services and on Europe’s innovation potential?

These are our key messages to EU regulators:

1. The Openness of the Internet is an essential principle, we are committed to safeguarding it and we believe it is fully compatible with a growing internet ecosystem in the interest of both competitiveness and consumers.

2. Network operators are working tirelessly to comply with the EU Regulation 2015/2120 and all of its regulatory objectives should be pursued by both industry and regulators:

  • Protect end users
  • Ensure an efficient use of networks
  • Safeguard competition
  • Allow increased network investment

3. EU Regulation 2015/2120 is fit for purpose and up-to-date, as it provides strong and clear principles.

4. BEREC Guidelines currently create regulatory uncertainty, they go beyond the Regulation and fail to support 5G and smart networks. This prevents innovative services and offers from reaching consumers and it builds uncertainty into the business case for technological innovation.

5. BEREC Guidelines should be re-aligned with the Regulation, by moving away from unwarranted lists of ex-ante parameters and restrictive interpretations of the legal text. This should serve 2 main objectives:

  • Ensure consumer choice, service quality and differentiations as well as improved end-user experience;
  • Allow the necessary certainty and incentives for the industry to achieve the Gigabit Society objectives, with increased investment in 5G and fibre networks.

6. Address the need for service innovation, consumer choice and increased network deployment. This can be done by addressing the following issues in the Guidelines:

  • Commercial offers should be judged on a case-by-case basis
  • Provided that quality of Internet Access Service is not affected, network management should be recognised as an essential resource, especially (but not only) in relation to network slicing, which is the most innovative aspect of 5G
  • As per the Regulation, the possibility to offer multiple Internet Access Services should be recognised explicitly
  • Any arbitrary interpretation of the transparency and redress provisions should be removed from the Guidelines.
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