The EU Regulation on open internet access (the Open Internet Regulation) requires the safeguarding of equal and non-discriminatory treatment of traffic and related end-users’ right when providing internet access services. BEREC recently published guidelines on the implementation by national regulators of European net neutrality rules, which requires regulatory authorities such as Ofcom to apply the regulation in a consistent manor. Ofcom must also publish regular reports. The latest report covers the year ending April 2020.
The four areas under the regulation are:
- Monitoring the quality of internet access services.
- Safeguarding open internet access and traffic management.
- Transparency measures.
- Complaints and remedies.
- Quality – an improvement in fixed internet access services.
- Connectivity – broadband and mobile networks coped during the peak of COVID-19 and people stayed connected.
- Transparency of broadband speeds – codes of practices are working well and no new cases raised.
- Open Internet Regulation – since closing three investigations in 2019 Ofcom has not identified new cases of concern regarding ISP’s traffic management practices. Ofcom published a framework setting out its approach to assessing compliance with aspects of the regulation, including a Traffic Management Framework which has helped ISPs in self-assessing any current or future traffic management measures that they may be considering.
- Zero-rating – Ofcom concluded initial reviews of two zero-rating offers. As a result of COVID-19, a number of mobile providers gave customers free online access to the latest NHS health information and agreed to remove data charges for people accessing certain websites (e.g. providing support to victims of abuse).
- Specialised services – no situations where the rules present a challenge.
Fixed broadband network internet access services quality:
- Sync speeds – an upward trend of average download speeds from just over 49Mbits/s in 2018 to 61Mbit/s in 2019.
- Mean average actual speeds – average download speeds increasing by 18% to 64.0 Mbit/s and average upload speeds increasing to 14.0 Mbit/s. This is due to the growing availability and take-up of superfast and ultrafast fibre and cable services.
- Peak time download speeds – improvement compared to 2018 (with unchanged average maximum speed). In 2019 the figure was 62.9 Mbit/s, 96% of the average maximum speed.