The EU Regulation on open internet access (the Open Internet Regulation) imposes a range of obligations on internet service providers (ISPs) regarding their provision of internet access services (IAS). These are often referred to as the ‘net neutrality rules’. The aim of the Open Internet Regulation is to “safeguard equal and non-discriminatory treatment of traffic in the provision of internet access services and related end-users’ rights” and “guarantee the continued functioning of the internet ecosystem as an engine of innovation”. To secure these goals, the Regulation imposes measures dealing with the way ISPs manage data traffic on their networks. It also places obligations on ISPs about the terms and conditions of, as well as information contained in, customer contracts for the provision of IAS.
The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) has published Guidelines on the Implementation by National Regulators of European Net Neutrality Rules. The Guidelines state that the National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) of the EU Member States “should take utmost account” of the Guidelines, which “should contribute to consistent application of the Regulation, thereby contributing to regulatory certainty to stakeholders.”
Ofcom is the NRA responsible for enforcing the Open Internet Regulation in the United Kingdom. UK national regulations designate Ofcom as such, and set out Ofcom’s powers. These include the power to impose a penalty of up to 10% of the turnover of the relevant business for breaches of the Open Internet Regulation. In addition, Ofcom may require operators who have breached the Open Internet Regulation to take steps to comply with their obligations and to remedy the consequences of their breach.
The Open Internet Regulation requires NRAs such as Ofcom to monitor and ensure compliance with the net neutrality rules and to promote the availability of non-discriminatory IAS at levels of quality that reflect advances in technology.
As part of its monitoring and compliance work, Ofcom has published a statement which contains our approach to assessing compliance with certain aspects of the Open Internet Regulation, based on our experience to date. This statement is intended to help raise ISPs’ awareness of the compliance issues that can arise under the Open Internet Regulation and to assist ISPs in planning their services and assessing their own compliance with the Regulation.
Ofcom’s approach to assessing compliance with net neutrality rules: Frameworks for assessing zero rating offers and traffic management measures for compliance with the Open Internet Regulation. (PDF, 363.1 KB)
The Open Internet Regulation also requires NRAs to publish an annual report regarding their monitoring and findings and provide those reports to the European Commission and to BEREC. The latest report can be found below.
While the UK has left the European Union and Ofcom will no longer be required to provide an annual report on the monitoring of compliance with the EU’s net neutrality rules to the Commission and BEREC after 31 December 2020, Ofcom will still be under an obligation under UK law to produce a yearly report on UK net neutrality rules. Therefore, Ofcom will continue to monitor compliance and publish its findings on a yearly basis.
This document is a report to the European Commission and BEREC on our approach to monitoring and ensuring compliance with EU Regulation 2015/2120 on open internet access covering the period from May 2019 to April 2020.