EU reaches a compromise on net neutrality and roaming rules

EU reaches a compromise on net neutrality and roaming rules

In the early hours of this morning, the European Commission, European Parliament and Council of Ministers reached a political compromise on the Connected Continent Regulation. The Broadband Stakeholder Group recognises the efforts made by the EU Latvian Presidency to facilitate the negotiations and conclude them before the end of its term. The new EU law will end roaming charges from June 2017 when travelling in the EU and will include for the first time rules regulating the Open Internet.

Roaming

The 15th of June 2017 will mark the end of roaming charges in the EU, enabling consumers to use their mobile devices at the same prices as at home, with no extra charges but within reason in order to prevent abuses or the practice of “permanent roaming”. The details on the fair use limit will be defined by the European Commission in the next months.

Net neutrality/Open Internet

The new EU rules on net neutrality will enshrine into law the principles of no blocking and no throttling of online content, applications and services. Traffic management to regulate the day-to-day traffic of content will be allowed. However, the principle of equal treatment of traffic will be subject to some exceptions; traffic management will be authorised to comply with national law prohibiting unlawful or criminal content, to preserve the security of the network, to minimise exceptional and temporary congestion of the traffic, to filter spam and to allow parental controls (with prior consent or request of the user). It is worth noting that exemptions such as spam filtering and parental controls will only be effective if enabled by national legislation.  

Specialised and innovative services requiring a high-quality transmission (such as IPTV or high-definition videoconferencing) will be allowed as long as they are not sold as substitute for the Open Internet Access. However paid prioritisation of services will be banned, which means that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will not be able to slow down content or service in exchange of payment.

The new Regulation also empowers national regulators in ensuring the rules are implemented, and obliges Member States to set rules on the penalties (administrative and pecuniary) applicable to infringements.

The new Regulation will enter into force after a formal vote of the European Parliament and Council of Ministers. The final text will be translated into all EU languages and published in the EU Official Journal before officially entering into force.

The BSG has facilitated the creation of the UK Open Internet and Traffic Management Transparency Codes which cover the principles set out under the new Regulation. The new EU rules may have an impact on these Codes and these will be assessed in the coming weeks.

 

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