What is net neutrality?
Net neutrality, also known as ‘open internet’, is the principle that you control what you see and do online, not the broadband provider that connects you to the internet.
It’s about people being free to access all legal internet content equally, without broadband providers interfering.
- By law, broadband providers must treat all internet traffic on their networks equally, and not favour certain websites or services. The rules set out in this legislation are enforced by Ofcom in the UK.
- Your provider must not block access to, slow down (‘throttle’), or discriminate in other ways between internet traffic on its network, unless it is necessary to do so for legal, security or emergency reasons.
- Your provider must not manage its internet traffic to gain a commercial advantage – for example, it must not redirect you away from a website, to one it’s affiliated with, or slow down the services of rival organisations.
- Your provider may take reasonable measures to manage its internet traffic, so that its network runs smoothly. But these measures should not be taken for longer than necessary. Your provider must be absolutely clear about its traffic management policy and practices.
Your provider is required to explain its approach to managing internet traffic in your contract. It must also publish this information. Your provider must tell you:
- how its traffic management policy could affect the quality of your internet service and your privacy;
- how any data caps, speed, and other quality of service measures could affect its internet service;
- the minimum, normally available, maximum and advertised download/upload speeds of its internet services, and why you might not experience the advertised speeds;
- what you can do if your internet experience is not what was promised to you in your contract.
If the speed or quality of your internet connection is not as good as you expect, it could be because:
- the line that provides your internet connection to your home is damaged;
- the device you are using to access the internet has not been set up correctly;
- the quality of your mobile phone signal depends on whether you are indoors or outdoors;
- there are performance issues with your internet router or hub (for example wifi interference); or
- there are faults that relate to specific content providers or their applications.
Ofcom has a broadband and mobile checker which can provide tips on how to improve your internet connection.
- If you are concerned about your broadband provider’s net neutrality policy, or how it is applying it in practice, raise a formal complaint with them. Details should be available on their website or through customer services.
- More information on how to complain about a problem with your broadband is available.
- You can also complain to Ofcom. We cannot investigate individual complaints, but we use complaints data to identify cases where enforcement may be required. This data can also highlight areas where we can take regulatory action, such as introducing new rules to protect customers and/or businesses.