30 August 2016
The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) has today published its Guidelines to National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) on the implementation of Regulation 2015/2120 of 25 November 2015, laying down measures concerning open internet access, and presented them at a press conference.
Unprecedented response to a BEREC project
Arcep, which contributed to the year-long work of drafting these guidelines, welcomes the adoption of this document within the ambitious deadline set by the regulation. A great many expectations are bound up with the subject of net neutrality, as proven by the record level of response to the public consultation held by BEREC this summer. Close to 500,000 responses were received to the consultation, including a substantial number from coordinated civil society initiatives. The responses have been duly analysed and taken into account by the group responsible for drafting these guidelines. The Chairman of Arcep also extends his thanks to the many internet users who engaged with him via Twitter (@sorianotech).
A roadmap to help national regulatory authorities enforce the regulation consistently
The final version being published today includes clarifications in response to questions and proposals from the stakeholders who contributed to the public consultation.
The guidelines provide NRAs with a clear roadmap for enforcing the regulation. Regulators are required to act as net neutrality's watchdogs, ensuring compliance from operators and, if necessary, imposing penalties when they fail to comply. As provided for by the regulation, certain practices (specialised services, zero rating) are not forbidden as long as they do not seek to circumvent the principle of net neutrality, and will be examined on a case by case basis. The guidelines are designed to be future-proof, and BEREC welcomes any input from stakeholders that will help stimulate innovation.
Enforcement work begins
Arcep will be kicking off several parallel initiatives, aimed in particular at:
• taking an inventory of operators' practices on French networks;
• improving their detection (notably thanks to end users' participation);
• ensuring the practices observed comply with the regulation;
• and cooperating with its European counterparts to ensure the regulation is enforced in a consistent fashion across the EU.
Arcep will produce an annual status report on the regulation's enforcement, starting in 2017.
Once ratified, the Digital Republic bill put forward by Axelle Lemaire will complete Arcep's ability to enforce net neutrality, in terms of its power of inquiry and ability to impose penalties.