The Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC) has published draft guidelines on how end users are to be informed about the way their Internet service is managed within the European Union. The aim of the guidelines is to improve transparency through net neutrality – the principle that all information passing through an electronic network should be treated equally and that there should not be any discrimination between types and sources of data travelling across those networks.
The draft guidelines require that certain information should be provided to end users by:
- national regulatory authorities (Ofcom in the UK), which are required by law to ensure that the relevant information is provided;
- Internet services providers (ISPs), which are required at law to provide the relevant information; and
- other third parties such as price comparison websites.
The information provided by the above entities should be formed on the basis of a common terminology to avoid end user confusion. The information provided relates to download and upload speeds (that are both actual and advertised), service availability, service quality, usage limitation (including data caps, download limits and fair use policies) and any traffic-management techniques used by ISPs to avoid network congestion.
The guidance is draft only – BEREC has invited comments from interested parties by 2nd November 2011 – but, once finalised, will be a foundation block for ISPs in relation to how they provide their services.