EMERG Plenary in Sarajevo decided to strengthen the activity of the permanent Expert Working Group on the Net neutrality and the transition to Open Internet (NN EWG).

The workshop in Rome, chaired by INTT (Tunisia) in cooperation with the AGCOM (Italy) as chair of the EWG, was the opportunity to start a glide path towards the approximation of the South Mediterranean Countries to the new EU regulatory framework.

To this aim, starting from a questionnaire sent to the EMERG Members, the EMERG discussed about the possible projects that can be implemented in the next years in terms for example, of monitoring the quality of internet connection through a dedicated measurement tool, the traffic management evaluation and the approximation to the new EU horizon.

In particular, following the entry into force of the Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 (also: the “TSM[1] Regulation”) of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2015 laying down measures concerning open internet access and amending Directive 2002/22/EC on universal service and users’ rights relating to electronic communications networks and services, National Regulatory authorities (hereafter NRA) in the EU Member States shall monitor the implementation of net Neutrality provisions of the TSM Regulation. In the European Union, the TSM regulation is the legal basis for monitoring and enforcement of net neutrality rules. The regulation sets several principles to protect consumers and provides clear rules for Internet service providers and content providers. The aim of the regulation is to ensure that Internet access is not hampered by commercial or political interests and that everybody can benefit from online connectivity.

When analysing the behaviour of the EU NRAs  in the past three years it is apparent that the early focus was on enforcement of Internet access and monitoring zero rating offers (see published EC/BEREC reports and national regulatory authorities’ individual reports[2]).

Going forward, most NRA’s actions will likely be devoted to traffic management (including monitoring QoS and assessing which specialized services can benefit from regulatory exemptions, and how), 5G services, end-user rights and commercial practices, then transparency and national regulatory authorities’ supervision. This trend was outlined in a public stakeholders’ workshop held in Brussels on 29 May 2019.

In the Mediterranean, the EMERG benchmark report 2018 drew a picture of the current status of the net neutrality in the EMERG Countries. In particular:

“All European members of EMERG have disclosed an official position on regulating net neutrality. Next to the European Union member states, also Israel, Tunisia and Switzerland have taken an official stand in the matter [..] In Israel the Telecommunications law prohibits operators to block or restrict services, applications or telecommunication equipment, while in Switzerland there is an ongoing legislative process foreseeing regulation focussing on rules of transparency and obligation for providers to inform end users.

France, Cyprus, Israel, Italy, Palestine, Switzerland and Tunisia have included net neutrality in a law or legislative proposal.[3] In general national law in the European countries follows the adoption of European regulation on open internet access and of the BEREC guidelines[4]. On the other hand, in Tunisia the principle of neutrality is enshrined at the level of the license agreements. The article on the neutrality requires that the holder guarantees that its service is neutral regarding the information content transmitted over its network. Thus, under current regulations, he is obliged to take all necessary measures to guarantee the neutrality of its staff concerning the content of messages transmitted over its network. For this purpose, he provides the services without discrimination, whatever the nature of the transmitted messages and takes the appropriate measures to ensure entirety.”[5]

[1] Telecom Single Market Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.L_.2015.310.01.0001.01.ENG&toc=OJ:L:2015:310:TOC

[2] Annual country reports from National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) on compliance with the provisions on open internet (2018) https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/annual-country-reports-open-internet-national-regulators

[3]    For European countries the provisions of the European net neutrality regulation apply directly in each Member State and do not require their transposition into national law. However, national legal provisions may be needed to define the institutional framework for net neutrality, and to ensure compliance in individual Member States.

[4] BEREC guidelines (on the Implementation by National Regulators of European Net Neutrality Rules) constitute recommendations which, while not mandatory, NRAs should take into utmost account.

[5] EMERG benchmark report 2018 http://www.emergonline.org/2019/05/08/emerg-benchmark-report-2018/

Programme

From Net neutrality to Open Internet. Which challenges for regulation? Davide Gallino (AGCOM, Italy)

Monitoring the application of the “Net neutrality” rules. Concetta Paolino (AGCOM, Italy)

Net neutrality in the context of 5G. Marco Petracca (AGCOM, Italy)