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ARCEP launches principles for network neutrality

Posted by malcolm on Friday, October 1st, 2010 at 12:54

The French national telecoms regulatory authority ARCEP has announced ten principles it proposes to apply to support network neutrality on the Internet.

ARCEP, the Autorité de Régulation des Communications Électroniques et des Postes, acknowledges the influence of prominent network neutrality advocate Tim Wu on its thinking.

The ten principles are:

  1. Freedom and quality in access to the internet The Authority recommends that the ISP that provides access to the Internet is held in compliance with existing legislation, to offer the end user:
    • The ability to send and receive the content of their choice;
    • The possibility to use the services or to run applications of their choice;
    • The possibility to connect the hardware and use the programs of his choice, since they do not harm the network;
    • A sufficient quality of service and transparent.

    Exceptions to this principle are possible, subject to compliance with the framework set out in Proposal No. 3.

  2. Non-discrimination in access flow to the Internet
    For access to the internet, the Authority recommends that the general rule is not to differentiate the types of treatment for each individual flow data by type of content, service, application, terminal, or according to the address of transmitting or receiving stream. This applies anywhere in the network, including its points of interconnection.
    Exceptions to this principle are possible, subject to compliance with the framework set out in Proposal No. 3.

  3. Supervision mechanisms to manage traffic access to the internet
    As an exception to the principles laid down in proposals 1 and 2, and so that any deviation from these principles remains limited, the Authority recommends that where traffic management practices are implemented by ISPs to ensure access to the internet, they meet the general criteria of relevance, proportionality, efficiency, non-discrimination and transparency of the actors.

  4. Managed Services
    To preserve the innovative capacity of all actors, all electronic communications operator must have the opportunity to propose, in addition to access to the internet, “managed services”, both vis- towards end-users as service providers of information society (PSI), provided that these managed services do not degrade the quality of access to the internet below a sufficient level, and in respect of competition law and sector-specific rules.

  5. Transparency vis-à-vis end-users
    Both in the sales presentation and contract terms of their electronic communications services in the information accessible to customers of these offers during the contract, ISPs must provide end users with clear, accurate and relevant:

    • Services and applications accessible via these services
    • Their quality of service,
    • Their possible limitations,
    • As well as traffic management practices which they are subject.

    As such, the Authority recommends in particular that:

    • Any restriction on a data transmission service from the principles of freedom of use and non-discrimination flows arising in the proposals No. 1 and No. 2 is explicitly stated in the communication and the contractual terms of clear and understandable
    • The term “Internet” can be used to describe these services when some of these restrictions would not comply with the requirements of Proposition No. 3,
    • The term “unlimited” may not be used for offers of services, including limitations on the type of “reasonable use” which results in either a temporary cut in additional charges or services, or excessive degradation rates or quality of service .

    Initially, the Authority will ask the ISPs, and associations that represent consumer organizations to initiate work to define common terms shared information of the end user about the limitations of tenders and practices traffic management, and to share, by the end of first quarter 2011, their proposals in this regard.
    In a second step, if necessary, the Authority will complement and link with the DGCCRF, the proposals made to it.

  6. Monitoring of traffic management practices
    The Authority will ask the ISPs and their representative associations, ISPs, and associations representing them, as well as consumer associations to initiate joint work to identify and classify the different types of traffic management practices, including limitations such as “reasonable use” related offers so-called “unlimited”, and to share by the end of the first quarter of 2011 of their proposals in this regard.
    At the same time, the Authority will monitor the traffic management practices implemented by operators in order to assess in particular the criteria of relevance, effectiveness, proportionality and non discrimination of actors and transparency.

    In a second step, if necessary, the Authority will complement and link with the DGCCRF, the proposals made to it.

  7. Monitoring the quality of service of the Internet
    To ensure that access to the internet has a sufficient quality of service and transparency, the Authority will start work to:

    • Describe the main parameters of the service quality of Internet access and develop appropriate indicators
    • To be published periodically by ISPs such indicators of quality of retail service-specific data transmission services, including access to the Internet, both fixed and mobile networks.

    This work will be done by involving the DGCCRF, operators and associations representing them, the ISPs and their representative associations and consumer associations.

  8. Monitoring the interconnection market data
    The Authority recommends:

    • Actors that give end users access to the Internet, to law objectively and without discrimination to all reasonable requests for interconnection to render services or applications of the Internet accessible to these users;
    • Actors who give ISPs access to the Internet, to law objectively and without discrimination to all reasonable requests for interconnection to make the services or applications of these PSI accessible to users of the Internet.

    Moreover, in order to remove the opacity existing markets for interconnection of data and have information relevant to the proper exercise of its powers, the Authority will adopt by the end of the first half of 2011, a decision periodic collection of information on these markets.

    In a second time, especially on the basis of this information, the Authority will assess whether to implement more prescriptive rules regulating these markets.

  9. Taking into account the role of ISPs in the net neutrality
    The Authority points out that the effective exercise by the users of their freedom of choice between the benefits (services / applications / content) made available by PSI via the Internet means that they observe:

    • A principle of non-discrimination vis-à-vis the various operators for access to such benefits;
    • The principles of objectivity and transparency vis-à-vis the user regarding the rules used, where ISPs exert a role in the selection or ranking of third party content, which is the case search engines.

    The authority invites private and public officials concerned to give full consideration to these issues.

  10. Strengthening the neutrality of the terminals
    As part of the forthcoming review of the R & TTE Directive, the Authority recommends that consideration be given the opportunity to complete this directive to take better account of the evolution of terminal market, marked notably by the growing importance of software layers and interactions with the PSI.
    The authority invites private and public officials concerned to give full consideration to these issues.

Please note that the above is a translation using Google Translate; the original is in French.

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