What transparency requirements does the Open Internet Regulation introduce for Internet Service Providers?
Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2015 laying down measures concerning open internet access – the ‘Open Internet Regulation’ – requires Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to provide information about their Internet Access Services (IAS), such as speeds, data caps, and any traffic management measures applied to their service, as well as explaining whether and how Specialised Services (SpS) might have an impact on the IAS provided. ISPs are required to provide this information in their contracts and also to publish it (e.g. in marketing or on websites).
What do the BEREC Open Internet Guidelines state about these transparency requirements?
The transparency provisions are requirements with regard to ISPs, rather than the National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs). Nevertheless, the NRAs need to ensure that ISPs are complying with these transparency requirements. The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) Guidelines on the implementation of the Open Internet Regulation – the ‘BEREC Open Internet Guidelines’ – therefore set out good practices which ISPs should adhere to in order to make their information transparent, e.g. it should be easily accessible, accurate, meaningful, and should enable comparison with other offers.
What kind of speed information is required?
The Open Internet Regulation requires ISPs to provide information about the speeds that each end user can expect to receive. For fixed services, this relates to minimum, normally available and maximum speeds, as well as any speeds that are advertised. For mobile services, information must be provided about the estimated maximum speed as well as any speeds that are advertised.
BEREC considers certain types of Fixed Wireless Access services as fixed network services for the purpose of the transparency requirements laid down in the Open Internet Regulation. This is the case, for example, where a network using wireless technology (including mobile) is used for IAS provisioning at a fixed location with dedicated equipment and either capacity reservation or usage of a specified frequency spectrum band is applied.
The BEREC Open Internet Guidelines provide examples of requirements that the NRAs could set for the different kinds of speeds, and observe, amongst other things, that:
- the ‘maximum speed’ for fixed services is the speed that the end-user could expect to receive at least some of the time (e.g. at least once a day);
- the ‘normally available speed’ for fixed services is the speed that the end-user could expect to receive most of the time, and it has two dimensions – the speed itself and the proportion of time it is available during a given period;
- the ‘estimated maximum speed’ for mobile services should be explained in a way that the end-user can understand the realistically available maximum speed in different locations in realistic usage conditions. One way of doing this could be by using coverage maps.