Ofcom has confirmed its intention to review UK net neutrality rules, potentially opening the door to more flexible regulations for mobile and broadband operators.
The communications watchdog now has more flexibility to adjust its policies now that the UK is no longer a member of the EU, which passed Net Neutrality legislation in 2015.
These measures prohibit service providers from prioritizing certain applications beyond standard traffic management measures and charging content providers additional fees for preferential treatment.
Net neutrality in the UK
It was feared that such practices threaten the development of an open Internet and make it more difficult for startups and innovative applications to compete with the big players.
However, mobile and broadband operators say it is unfair that they have to invest in network infrastructure to support increasingly data-intensive applications such as online gaming and streaming, including others profit.
Ofcom is in the early stages of its review and it is too early to determine which specific policies could be changed. However, the regulator has suggested that there may be room for maneuver after Brexit.
“Over the next year, we plan to review the existing framework for net neutrality to ensure we can continue to support innovation, while protecting consumers,” a spokesperson said.
The development comes a week after BT CEO Marc Allera called for more freedom for operators, saying the coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated the benefits of a more flexible framework.
EE, and others, have zero-rated access to education services during school closings, but have been forced to do so under existing net neutrality legislation and incur additional costs.
Simultaneously, the lockdown has also accelerated the adoption of online games and streaming services, both of which are increasingly data intensive.
The biggest spikes on the BT network come when a major game update coincides with a major sporting event such as Amazon Prime’s Premier League coverage. This puts a lot of pressure on the telecom operators to ensure that there is sufficient capacity and reliability, but not the banners or platform supports.
Traditionally, TV platform owners have had to operate TV transmitters and satellite networks, but as distribution moves to IPTV, it is the telecommunications operators that will provide the underlying infrastructure.
“The problem we face is that allowing free access to some websites is incompatible with current net neutrality agreements,” he said at the Enders’ Media and Telecoms 2021 & Beyond conference. “Large zero-rate sites – for us and for any other network operator – generate enormous data traffic and costs on the networks.
“It is clearer than ever that the ways in which we access and use our networks are not equal. But what the pandemic has shown is that there are very good reasons to allow preferential access to certain platforms. And we believe now is the time to explore what the future should look like, to enable everyone in the UK to benefit from connectivity and digitization. “
Allera said BT’s ability to support government services would be enhanced if it was able to differentiate its service proposition to meet the needs of multiple users.
“The current net neutrality agreements also put pressure on networks to support the rise and rise of the most popular content and gaming platforms.
“For network owners, this entails a considerable additional cost. We not only rely on our customers to provide the connectivity they need every day, but also on the major content and gaming platforms that rely on our networks to be extremely fast and reliable to deliver their services and content as they see fit. wished. And yet regulatory pressure and UK market pressure on customer prices are down – for all customers.
“Our goal is to be the connectivity partner who can make the difference. We want to be in a better position – so that our industry and yours are in a better position – to help create a better experience for our customers. And if those net neutrality rules are adjusted, it could also help us create the digitally connected and inclusive UK we all want to see. “
Via the telegraph