The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) urges the Bureau of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) to apply strong EU net neutrality rules by setting out robust and consistent guidelines for national regulators. The EBU believes that net neutrality is a pillar of media diversity in the digital age.
In its response to the BEREC consultation on net neutrality guidelines, the EBU points out that the deployment of 5G should not be a pretext to water down the implementation of net neutrality rules.
EBU Head of European Affairs Nicola Frank said: “We consider a robust net neutrality EU policy to be crucial for the development of an open and interoperable 5G technology platform. The implementation of clear and strong EU net neutrality rules can go hand-in-hand with a rapid deployment of 5G.”
She added: “The implementation of net neutrality rules must not result in the creation of an internet ‘slow lane’ alongside internet “toll roads” which are prohibitively expensive or restricted on the basis of the network’s strategic interests.”
The EBU also warns against ‘zero-rating’ practices, in the light of the recent practice by Swedish Telecoms operator Telia offering free internet to exclusively access the Facebook application. Such practices should be carefully monitored by national regulators, particularly in situations where only services with sufficient resources can negotiate preferential deals. ‘Zero-rating’ could have an important impact on freedom of expression and media pluralism, as well as distorting competition, impeding innovation and reducing user choice.
The EBU addresses several other issues raised by the BEREC consultation in line with the basic net neutrality principles agreed by EBU Members:
- Prevent blocking of content and tackle discriminatory practises against specific content based on commercial considerations;
- Ensure respect for the provided reasonable traffic management principles and ensure that equivalent types of traffic are treated equally in case of traffic management dealing with congestion;
- Ensure that the development of specialised services does not impair the quality and availability of Internet Access Services;
- Ensure that clear and meaningful transparency requirements and mechanisms for ISPs traffic management policies are in place.
The BEREC is expected to finalize its guidelines at the end of August 2016.