Ofcom finds the Internet is still Open in the UKMatthew Evans
Last week Ofcom published its first report to the European Commission under the ‘Connected Continent’ Regulation (2015/2120) on how UK operators are complying with the new Net Neutrality rules. The report was split into five sections on; quality of Internet Access Services, safeguarding open internet access, traffic management, transparency measures and complaints and remedies. Overall, Ofcom found no major concerns although it did highlight some points that merit further examination.
The BSG holds the self-regulatory Code of Practice on the Open Internet which seeks to ground the Regulation’s net neutrality aspects within the context of the UK. This Code is built on work in 2011/12 around transparency and discrimination on the basis of origin which we believe have delivered substantial benefits, with a 2015 report noting that UK consumers can access the broadest range of OTT services in the OECD.
The Regulation however, provides a useful regulatory backstop and Ofcom are right to highlight some areas that merit further investigation and wider discussion. These includes issues such as zero-rating practices. The regulation doesn’t ban these but these must align with the objectives of the Regulation. One example Ofcom offers was a limited offering of music streaming being zero-rated on a 30GB/month mobile plan. Ofcom did not formally investigate due to its brief availability but in the report is clear that it views the very high data allowance as a positive – in that it would reduce the incentive on users to limit themselves to the zero-rated product.
The report also shows how complicated it can be to measure quality of service, even with specific hardware monitoring, and what is the cause of a drop in quality. This is work that the BSG wants to take forward this year.
If you are interested in joining the BSG’s Open Internet Forum which considers issues such as zero-rating then please contact [email protected].