Review launched into UK’s Open Internet Code

Review launched into UK’s Open Internet Code

Broadband Stakeholder Group commissions independent consultancy to assess effectiveness and recommend future developments

The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG), the Government’s leading advisory group on broadband, is launching a review into the UK’s industry led approach to the Open Internet. The review aims to assess the current structure’s effectiveness, its future under the EU’s Connected Continent Regulation and what improvements can be made to the benefit of consumers and content and service providers.

The BSG facilitated the creation of the UK’s pioneering Open Internet and Traffic Management Transparency Codes of Practice. All major internet service providers (ISPs) and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are signatories of these Codes, accounting for well over 90% of fixed and mobile connections. In its most recent Infrastructure Report, Ofcom described the ISPs’ commitment to the Code as an “effective self-regulatory model”, which fulfilled a “key part of Government policy on Net Neutrality”.

The BSG has commissioned WIK to undertake the study as both a form of good practice and to assess the UK’s approach in light of the Connected Continent Regulation, which will be formally signed off in the autumn. WIK has a long history in the field of net neutrality with relevant reports commissioned for Ofcom, the European Commission and Parliament, and the Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC). Their most recent research highlighted that UK consumers value the open internet and would likely switch provider if their internet usage was capped.

Minister for the Digital Economy Ed Vaizey said: “I welcome this decision by industry and the Broadband Stakeholder Group to review the Open Internet and transparency codes of practice. Both codes have been essential in making sure we have an open Internet for consumers in the UK. The Government encouraged the industry to develop a self-regulatory solution and so I am delighted with their success.”

Matthew Evans, CEO of the BSG said: “The UK’s self-regulatory approach has meant that consumers have benefited from increased transparency, service providers have been given regulatory certainty and content providers have been protected from discriminating practices. It is right that we review the Codes’ compliance under the new EU Regulation and make sure that they are fit for the future.”

The Review of the Codes will be conducted in conjunction with the Open Internet Forum which brings together content providers and network operators to discuss issues relating to the Open Internet.

Notes to editors

About the Broadband Stakeholder Group

The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) is the UK Government’s leading advisory group on broadband. It provides a neutral forum for organisations across the converging broadband value-chain to discuss and resolve key policy, regulatory and commercial issues with the ultimate aim of helping to create a strong and competitive UK knowledge economy.

About WIK

WIK (Wissenschaftliches Institut für Infrastruktur und Kommunikationsdienste, i.e. Scientific Institute for Infrastructure and Communications Services) was founded in 1982, originally as an organizational unit of the Deutsche Bundespost and is owned today by Germany Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs.

WIK’s main objective is to provide research support for and policy advice to policy makers and private companies with a focus on electronic communications, energy and postal markets. Find more information on http://www.wik.org/ .

WIK in conjunction with YouGov, recently polled UK, US and German consumers relating to issues around the Open Internet including paid prioritisation, equality of access and data capping. The results showed significant differences in consumer preferences and attitudes across the three markets. The press release relating to the study can be found here.

WIK furthermore led a study commissioned by BEREC to investigate the value of network neutrality to European consumers. The full study including BEREC’s cover report can be found here.

The Open Internet Forum

The Open Internet Forum came about during the extensive discussions that led to the creation of the Open Internet Code. The Forum brings together signatories of the Code, Government, the regulator, content providers and other interested parties. It facilitates dialogue amongst industry on open internet issues and allows concerns and issues to be raised informally.

The Traffic Management Transparency Code of Practice

The Traffic Management Transparency Code was published in March 2011 and all major ISPs and MNOs are now signatories.

The voluntary code has three core commitments:

  • Firstly to provide more information to consumers about what traffic management takes place, for what purpose and with what impact.
  • Secondly to comply with a set of good practice principles on providing information to consumer that is: understandable; appropriate; accessible; current; comparable; and verifiable.
  • Thirdly to publish a common Key Facts Indicator (KFI) table, summarising the traffic management practices they use for each broadband product they currently market.

The Open Internet Code of Practice

The Open Internet Code was announced in July 2012 and now benefits from having all major ISPs as signatories. The BSG were asked to undertake develop a Code by Government following its work on the Traffic Management Code (below).

The Open Internet code has 3 core commitments which:

  • Commit signatory ISPs to the provision of full and open internet access products
  • Commits against negative discrimination, i.e. not targeting and degrading the content of a specific service provider
  • Commits to new transparency requirements for any restricted products that are launched

Both of the Codes of Practice can be found here: http://www.broadbanduk.org/bsg-openinternettrafficmanagement/

 

For more information please contact Lucie Smith at Lucie.Smith@techuk.org

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