BSG Publishes New Open Internet Code of Practice
- New Code of Practice signed by all major UK communications providers, preserving consumer access to the Open Internet
- Brings UK approach into line with the new EU Connected Continent Regulation
8 June 2016: The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) today published a new Open Internet Code 2016, signed by major communication providers and with the wider support of the Open Internet Forum.
The new Code continues to preserve the concept of an Open Internet – one in which users can access all lawful content without providers discriminating on the basis of commercial rivalry. It also ensures that traffic management practices employed by communication providers to manage their network are compliant with the new EU Regulation. In addition, the signatories to the Code will maintain the transparency that they already have in place around these practices by ensuring that these are communicated to the user effectively.
The Code also clarifies the context in which some innovative services, which may become more prevalent as the Internet of Things becomes a reality, could be provided alongside the Open Internet. Matthew Evans, CEO of the Broadband Stakeholder Group, said: “This Code ensures the continuation of the UK’s successful self-regulatory approach, which, in the context of a competitive marketplace, has delivered real benefits to UK consumers. The revised Code gives UK communication providers and consumers greater clarity and certainty about what the European Regulation means in practice. The consistent and constructive engagement of both ISPs and content providers was critical to the success of the process. I look forward to continuing to work with them and with the Open Internet Forum to address any issues that arise in relation to the Code.”
In 2015, the BSG commissioned a review of the UK’s previous approach to determine its effectiveness and compliance with the newly adopted EU Connected Continent Regulation. This independent review was undertaken by WIK. The report found that self-regulation could continue to add value “over and above” the requirements laid out in the Regulation.
The new Code was drafted following the recommendations of the report and was led by the BSG within the Open Internet Forum, the UK’s mechanism for discussing issues around the Open Internet. The Forum comprises both signatories to the Code as well as other communication operators, content and application providers, public policy experts and consumer groups.
Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: “The original code of practice, which I called for in 2011, was essential in delivering an Open Internet for the UK. These revisions announced complement the recent EU Open Internet Regulation and will make sure it is applied consistently by the major UK Internet Service Providers.”
Jo Connell, Chair of the Communications Consumer Panel, said: “The new Code continues to support open access to the internet and builds on previous commitments by ISPs to provide transparent information to consumers about their traffic management policies. We welcome the revised and updated provisions and are pleased that almost all major UK communication providers have agreed to become signatories. This work by the BSG has gained significant interest internationally as a positive example of industry responding to a developing consumer need.”
The BBC said “The UK played an important role in shaping the EU regulations which support the Open Internet and prohibit harmful discrimination. The new UK Code now sets out how signatories ISPs commit to the Open Internet model in practice. We welcome the Code alongside Ofcom’s enhanced backstop powers and monitoring. The BBC also looks forward to continuing to contribute to the Open Internet Forum and its role in addressing the challenges of a fast-moving market in the interests of consumer access to lawful services.”
Notes to editors:
The Code is based around four commitments made by internet service providers which can be summarised as;
- Supporting access to the Open Internet as the norm
- Clarifying the ability of ISPs, under certain conditions, to deliver managed or alternative services
- Permitting the deployment of traffic management tools under certain conditions and not on the basis of commercial rivalry
- Ensuring that traffic management practices are transparent and communicated effectively to the user
The Code builds on the 2011 Traffic Management Transparency Code of Practice and the 2012 Open Internet Code of Practice. It provides additional clarity on how the EU Connected Continent Regulation applies in the UK context.
BEREC (the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications) is currently developing guidelines on the implementation by national regulators of the Open Internet access provisions of the EU Connected Continent Regulation. These draft guidelines are now out for consultation and will be adopted at the end of August 2016.
The signatories to the Code include all major communication providers who serve over 90% of fixed and mobile subscribers in the UK. Other signatories are expected over the coming days and weeks.
About the Broadband Stakeholder Group
The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) is the UK Government’s advisory group on broadband. It provides a neutral forum for organisations across the converging broadband value-chain to discuss and resolve key policy, regulatory and commercial issues with the ultimate aim of helping to create a strong and competitive UK knowledge economy.