Friday, 30 December 2011

Scope and structure: BEREC Guidelines on Transparency in the scope of Net Neutrality

The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) approved the transparency guidelines for publication:

BEREC Guidelines on Transparency in the scope of Net Neutrality: Best practices and recommended approaches BoR (11) 67 (December 2011; 69 pages)

Executive summary

The Executive summary on pages 3 to 5 offers a short introduction to the thinking of the Board of Regulators (BoR).

The guidelines stress net neutrality as a key pre-condition to the end users’ ability to choose the quality of the service that best fits their needs, but transparency alone is probably insufficient to achieve net neutrality.

At this stage, the guidelines seem to promise a discussion about various approaches to a number of issues, without clear-cut rules to apply.


The guidelines discuss transparency from three angles (pages 6-7):

- the types of information that different groups of end users (consumers, business customers at a retail level - see section 1 for a more precise description of the beneficiaries) and institutions need in order to promote the ability to make informed choices regarding the quality of the Internet access services;

- the best means of conveying this information to end users;

- possible ways for end users to monitor the features of their services, and for NRAs to verify operators’ information, and the related requirements.
Related, but separate issues under investigation are (page 7):

Other BEREC projects are closely linked to this work, namely projects on “Competition issues related to Net Neutrality” and “Net Neutrality and Quality of Service”.


The presentation of the structure of the paper offers an overview to prospective readers (page 7):

Chapter I focuses on the role of transparency with regard to net neutrality, explaining why it is important, but is not sufficient on its own to address the “net freedoms” objective (nor other concerns expressed in the net neutrality debate). In addition, we give an overview of the legal context and touch on the situation within EU Member States.

Chapter II deals with requirements for a net neutrality transparency policy and states, as a general principle, that the end users’ perspective is paramount. We discuss how to best adapt a transparency policy to net neutrality-related issues, in particular by taking into account different types of end users and usages.

Chapter III talks about the contents of a net neutrality transparency policy, including the most appropriate data to be used, and provides practical examples and case studies.

Chapter IV explores different ways to ensure transparency, talking about the way information is transmitted and discusses mechanisms for monitoring transparency.

Chapter V details the possible roles of the various institutions involved, in particular through case studies, and draws some general conclusions of the report.

Regulatory context

On the pages 10-13 the guidelines present the main EU provisions relating to transparency in the revised eCommunications framework and the role of different players (MS = Member State, NRA = National Regulatory Authority, ISP = Internet Service Provider):

The new EU Regulatory Framework for Electronic Communications was required to be transposed by Member States by 25 May 2011. It brought important changes to the 2002 Regulatory Framework and also tackled the question of net neutrality by imposing on MS, NRAs and ISPs several obligations related to traffic management techniques.

Ralf Grahn