In accordance with the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications’ (BEREC’s) current understanding and analysis, 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’ – respects the principle of technological neutrality and seems to leave room for the implementation of 5G technologies, such as network slicing, 5QI and MEC. Please refer to the BEREC Opinion for the evaluation of the application of Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 for further information.
To date, BEREC is not aware of any concrete example from stakeholders where the implementation of 5G technology as such would be impeded by the Open Internet Regulation. The Open Internet Regulation and the BEREC Guidelines on the Implementation of the Open Internet Regulation – the BEREC Open Internet Guidelines – are technologically neutral, and therefore do not constitute a ban on the implementation of any 5G technology itself. The specific use of 5G technologies, as for any other network technology, has to be assessed on a case-by-case basis by the National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs). BEREC invites stakeholders to engage in informal dialogue with the NRAs if stakeholders are uncertain about whether a specific use of a 5G technology complies with the Open Internet Regulation.
How does network slicing relate to the Open Internet Regulation?
Network slicing is a concept within the 5G technology. With network slicing, a 5G network might be virtually split up into several sub-networks, called slices. Slices can be tailored to the specific quality requirements of applications or services using the connections enabled by the network. It is possible that several slices to provide different services in parallel within a single 5G network. Network slicing could be used as a method for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to provide Internet Access Services (IAS) with different levels of Quality of Service (QoS) and Specialised Services (SpS), for example, and at the same time contribute to the prevention of any worsening in the general quality of IAS through the provision of SpS (see recital 19 of the Open Internet Regulation).
How does the 5G Quality of Service Class Identifier relate to the Open Internet Regulation?
Within the 5G network, a Quality of Service Class Identifier mechanism, called 5QI, can be used. 5QI is a mechanism in which packets are classified into different QoS classes. In this way, the QoS can be tailored to specific requirements. Each QoS class has its own assigned QoS characteristics (such as packet delay and packet loss). As a result, some packets can obtain better QoS than other packets. Considering an architecture where IAS is provided through network slices in parallel to SpS in other slices, 5QI could be used as a traffic management measure to offer IAS complying with the rules on reasonable traffic management for the provision of different ‘categories of traffic’. Furthermore, traffic management based on 5QI may also be used to provide different IAS subscriptions with different QoS classes.
How does Mobile Edge Computing relate to the Open Internet Regulation?
Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) refers to a network architecture where storage and computing capacities are located close to a base station. MEC is expected to be a technology that supports the provision of lower end-to-end latency through a 5G network. The NRAs may take into account the MEC policies and practices of ISPs insofar as they have the effect of limiting the exercise of end-user rights under Article 3(1) of the Open Internet Regulation. If MEC is used in conjunction with the provision of internet access services, then the traffic management measures must comply with Article 3(3) of the Open Internet Regulation. If MEC is used in conjunction with the provision of specialised services, this must comply with Article 3(5) of the Open Internet Regulation.