Net neutrality and regulatory issues in the European context. Berec opens a public consultation.

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Today the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communication (“BEREC”), following its previous initiatives on the matter, has opened a public consultation on three draft reports related to the net neutrality principle in connection with the implementation by communication operators of traffic management measures. The contributions  to the public consultation, that will be open until 31 July 2012, shall be addressed to the mailbox pm@berec.europa.eu.

The draft documents under consultation are the following :

‐ “A view of traffic management and other practices resulting in restrictions to the open Internet in Europe” which is focused on how assessing the “degradation of service” and the conditions and ways to use the new article 22(3) Universal Service Directive;

‐ “Differentiation practices and related competition issues in the scope of net neutrality” which is an economic analysis about which practices may cause harm to end-users, and under which conditions;

‐ “An assessment on IP-interconnection in the context of net neutrality” which is an overview of IP interconnection markets and economic relationships between operators assessing the regulation with regard to IP interconnection in the context of Net Neutrality.

The results of the public consultation would be an interesting starting point for possible legislative intervention by European bodies on the issue.

Indeed, as anticipated by the EC’s Vice President Neelie Kroes in a today press release, the data provided by the BEREC in connection with the implementation of traffic management measures shown that there is a problem of “effective consumer choice” that must be properly faced also through specific legislative initiatives on the matter.

In this light Neelie Kroes, following the paths traced in recent times by several European bodies on the enforcement of the so called “net neutrality principle”, has stressed that the EC:

(i)  would not consider initiatives aimed at the prohibition of specific traffic management measures and therefore the EC would not interfere on the market behaviors of the operators involved;

(ii) would evaluate the introduction of informative duties upon the operators in connection with the implementation of traffic management measures in order to empower consumers to make an informed choice on their internet connections.

Also considering such official position taken by the EC, the public consultation opened today, will surely fuel the ongoing debate on net neutrality in the European dimension.

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