Net Neutrality Expert Working Group

In a convergent world the topic of Network Neutrality is one of the key elements, particularly with the shift in business models, technological trends and the evolving role of new content and application providers in the market. Further complexity is brought into this debate through considerations on long-term innovation and fundamental freedom and their link with unrestricted access to “the internet”. Leveraging on the fundamental role of competition, the revised framework puts forward the tools to make this competition effective, addressing market failures and empowering the customer (representing the demand side of this two sided market). It also explicitly emphasizes the need for NRAs to promote “the ability of end users to access and distribute information or run applications and services of their choice”.

In 2010 BEREC made a start in exploring the regulatory aspects of this broad theme, in particular via its response to the Commission’s consultation. For this reason, BEREC considered important that the conditions of net neutrality and the openness of the internet are monitored consistently over time. This monitoring could be based on “appropriate technical tools” to evaluate the deployment of traffic management and the quality of the internet service. In this scope, BEREC identified certain key issues for analysis:

-           Transparency: Commissioner Kroes has indicated in several speeches that transparency issues are non-negotiable. Indeed, transparency is a necessary condition for end-users to exercise freedom of choice.

-           Quality of Service requirements: The Regulatory Framework introduces the competence for NRAs to set minimum requirements. A harmonised approach towards minimum requirements could avoid creating inefficiencies for operators, costs that ultimately have to be compensated by consumers.

-           Discrimination: In responding the BEREC 2010 consultation, stakeholders referred to identification and economic assessment of traffic management rules as the major issue regarding net neutrality.