What is at stake?

The internet is a key driver for innovation, democratic participation and free speech. Its open nature lies at the heart of its success, fuelling investment in creative and innovative services and directly boosting growth in broadband uptake.

The fundamental principle of the “open internet” or “net neutrality” rests upon rules at national, regional and supranational level, which prevent online traffic from being unduly blocked, slowed down, altered, degraded or discriminated against. A future where multiple internet speed lanes for different types services is the norm would fatally undermine this principle and create a clear digital divide between online ‘haves and have nots’.

As public service media, the EBU wants to ensure that audiences enjoy unfettered, non-discriminatory and transparent access to online content of public interest. To guarantee this, we need a clear framework that ensures that all online data traffic is managed transparently and treated equally.

Ensuring transparency for end-users

Transparency on the open internet is the first pre-condition to ensure users’ ability to access content online. The possibility for consumers to make informed choices hinges on the provision of clear and accessible information about how internet traffic is managed and the conditions and quality of connections.

Transparency also underpins competitive broadband access markets. However, measures strengthening transparency will only have a limited impact unless they are combined with a robust and clear policy regarding internet traffic management.

Limiting traffic management and avoiding discrimination

Traffic management practices by network operators are only justified in specific and clearly identified cases. Without a well-defined framework for limiting these practices, there will be leeway for network operators to discriminate internet traffic based on origin or ownership, distorting competition and compromising the open and neutral character of the internet.

Defining cases in which internet traffic can be reasonably managed must therefore be combined with a clear rule that prevents online traffic from being blocked, slowed down, altered, degraded or discriminated against and that ensures that equivalent types of traffic are treated equally.

Preventing new forms of traffic discrimination from arising

With network operators increasingly offering content services of their own, there is an inherent risk that they will use their capacity to manage internet traffic to favour their offers of content over those of competitors. They could also facilitate access to content and services from partners with whom they have developed special arrangements or alternatively restrict access to competing services by slowing down data flows. This could lead to a situation where only content providers with sufficient resources can negotiate ‘preferential’ deals, distorting competition, hampering innovation and reducing user choice.

Enabling co-existence between internet access and specialized services

Access to the open internet is currently provided over the same broadband networks as specialized (or “managed”) services. The latter offer a guaranteed level of quality for services where a slower or degraded connection would have a considerable impact on user experience. For example, IPTV (television transmission via Internet Protocol) can be justified as a specialized service as it would be unable to function under a regular connection.

So far, the open internet and specialized services have co-existed in a dynamic fashion. However, it is crucial to maintain clear rules establishing net neutrality as the norm and specialized services as the exception. Otherwise there is a danger that finite network capacity would be dominated by specialized services, impairing access to the open internet.


European Digital Principles: the EBU's response to a public consultation

The EBU has responded to the European Commission’s public consultation on the formulation of a set of digital principles to promote and uphold EU values in the digital space. 

05 DECEMBER 2019

EBU response to the Public Consultation on draft BEREC Guidelines on the Implementation of the Open Internet Regulation

The EBU took part in the Public Consultation on the draft BEREC Guidelines on the Implementation of the Open Internet Regulation

25 APRIL 2018

EBU response to BEREC public consultation on the evaluation of the application of regulation (EU) 2015/2120 and the BEREC net neutrality guidelines [BOR (18) 33]

The EBU believes that the 2015 EU Regulation as well as the 2016 BEREC Guidelines continue to be critical tools to safeguard the internet's open character as a key driver for innovation.

05 JULY 2017

EBU response to the public consultation on the draft BEREC regulatory assessment methodology (BOR (17) 112)

The EBU welcomes the publication of the draft BEREC regulatory assessment methodology. It provides much needed solid guidance for measurement tools for National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) in charge of effectively and efficiently monitoring and enforcing open Internet provisions included in the EU Telecoms Single Market Regulation.

18 JULY 2016

EBU response to the public consultation on draft BEREC guidelines on implementation of net neutrality rules

The EBU considers that the role of national regulatory authorities (NRAs) – under consistent guidance by BEREC – is as critical to getting the Regulation to work in practice. NRAs must be highly proactive in relation to Article 5 and other responsibilities, their monitoring and in maintaining dialogue with industry.

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