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Consumers can make better informed choices regarding internet access

In Europe, internet providers must treat internet traffic in a non-discriminatory manner. The enforcement of European Regulation 2015/2120 calls for constant attention, and, if necessary, for action by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM). This is described in the Annual Report on Net Neutrality that ACM published today.

With regard to net neutrality, multiple topics have ACM’s attention. For example, ACM last year made sure that telecom providers correctly mention the internet speeds they offer in consumer contracts. After discussions with ACM, several providers clarified their contracts, and brought them in line with the net neutrality regulation. This enables consumers to make better informed choices when selecting a provider.

BEREC, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications, is currently working on a new measurement tool, which consumers can use to measure the internet speed available to them. ACM will adapt this tool to suit the Dutch market. ACM expects the BEREC measurement tool to become available to Dutch consumers in 2020. Consumers will then be able to check whether they actually receive the speeds that they pay for.

Free choice of terminal equipment

The net neutrality regulation stipulates that end-users have a free choice of terminal equipment. Therefore, providers of internet access services cannot impose restrictions on the use of the terminal equipment connecting to the network. Terminal equipment is connected to a network termination point. At such termination points, the provider’s network ends, and the end-user’s network begins. With the implementation of the European Electronic Communication Code, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (EZK) has delegated to ACM the power to determine the network termination points. At this point, BEREC is working on a set of Guidelines with regard to determining the Network Termination Point. ACM actively helps develop the BEREC Guidelines in order to guarantee free choice of terminal equipment in the Netherlands as well.

5G and specialized services

5G continues to evolve rapidly, and market participants have to make design choices with regard to 5G networks. This leads to them facing questions about how those design choices relate to the relevant rules and regulations. ACM wishes to stay engaged with all parties involved with regard to 5G and its implications for the market, consumers, and ACM itself.

As a follow-up to the study that was conducted over the past few years, ACM wishes to identify what traffic management measures Dutch providers are planning to take and how they assess in advance what the impact of additional services to the burden on their network will be. This allows ACM to ensure that specialized services will not have an unacceptable impact on the availability and general quality of internet access services for end-users. In this way, ACM leaves telecom companies room to continue to innovate, while also ensuring that the open nature of the internet is safeguarded.

ACM and net neutrality

In Europe, internet providers must treat internet traffic in a non-discriminatory manner. That means they are not allowed to block or unnecessarily restrict traffic. ACM keeps an eye on this. If consumers file any complaints, ACM may launch an investigation. If telecom companies have any doubts about how new technologies and new services relate to the net neutrality rules, they can contact ACM to exchange views.