Sunday, 18 December 2011

EU telecommunications: Public consultation on net neutrality (2010)

From the Digital Agenda for Europe communication 26.8.2010 COM(2010) 245 final/2, our next step regarding the open and neutral nature of the internet takes us to the public consultation.


Public consultation

The Commission launched the promised public consultation on net neutrality 30 June 2010 (press release IP/10/860, available in 22 languages). The Commission wanted to know more about potential problems linked with certain forms of traffic management and whether the new telecom rules are sufficient to tackle them; technical and economic aspects; quality of service considerations; and whether net freedoms may be affected.

The Commission web page about the public consultation on the open internet and and net neutrality offers i.a. the consultation questionnaire, the responses and a summary, as well as video recordings from a seminar (”summit”) which discussed the issues in November 2010.

The Commission's questionnaire (12 pages) offers a presentation of the issues and indications of what the executive wanted respondents to comment on, but the focus was on (page 2):

This questionnaire therefore focuses principally on the behaviour of operators, and in particular how they may manage traffic flowing over their networks (through a set of practices commonly referred to as 'network management' or 'traffic management'), in order to see how this behaviour might impact on the 'net freedoms' of citizens (i.e. their 'ability to access and distribute information or run applications and services of their choice') [reference in footnote 1: This is a regulatory policy objective enshrined in Article 8 of the amended Framework Directive.]

This consultation invites views on how best to preserve the open and neutral character of the internet, given the will of the European Institutions to enshrine this goal as a policy objective and regulatory principle to be promoted by national regulatory authorities, and to consider whether further public policy responses are needed.

For your convenience: Annex I on page 10 contains the Commission's 2009 declaration on net neutrality (also published in the Official Journal).


Responses

The consultation ended 30 September 2010, and on 9 November the Commission informed about the 318 responses through a press release (IP/10/1482, available in 22 languages), with main findings.

A summary report on the responses offers more detail (6 pages). The EU telecoms framework had still to be tested on the ground and various concerns were expressed with regard to the future, but the main findings indicated no need for new legislation, although further guidance might be welcome.

The responses of individual stakeholders can be found here.



Ralf Grahn