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Cable Europe urges Net Neutrality guideline caution

Cable Europe, the Association representing broadband cable operators, has urged caution in the use of the BEREC guidelines, designed to give National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) direction in implementing the Net Neutrality Regulation (Regulation 2015/2020).

According to Cable Europe, the Digital Single Market is one of the greatest ambitions of the European Union and the Regulation is an important tool in enabling this ambition. Legislators have acknowledged that a fast paced technological evolution is not compatible with overly prescriptive rules. It is therefore crucial that the Regulation is implemented in the spirit as well as the letter. The flexibility to embrace new developments, be they technological, economic or societal, must lie at the heart of the regulatory framework – and its interpretation.

Matthias Kurth, Executive Chairman of Cable Europe, said: “We believe that the ambitions of the Digital Single Market strategy are shared by industry and legislators alike. We recognise that the potential for digital transformation must not be fettered by overly prescriptive rules that will stifle innovation and put lead boots on the boundless potential of our digital technology.”

“Much rests now on the use of these guidelines by regulators, which whilst allowing National Regulatory Authorities the necessary autonomy could result in a negative outcome for progressive innovation. We urge the NRAs to embrace the ambitions of the Digital Single Market, and look forward to working with them as we turn the potential of Europe’s digital future into a reality.”
France’s telecoms regulator Arcep, which contributed to the year-long work of drafting these guidelines, has welcomed the adoption of this document within the ambitious deadline set by the regulation.

Arcep will be kicking off several parallel initiatives, aimed in particular at:

  • taking an inventory of operators’ practices on French networks;
  • improving their detection (notably thanks to end users’ participation);
  • ensuring the practices observed comply with the regulation;
  • and cooperating with its European counterparts to ensure the regulation is enforced in a consistent fashion across the EU.

Once ratified, the Digital Republic bill will complete Arcep’s ability to enforce net neutrality, in terms of its power of inquiry and ability to impose penalties.

In the finalising the Guidelines, BEREC took into account the many responses received, which were often arguing in opposite directions. On certain topics, some stakeholders wanted BEREC to go further on certain topics whilst others wanted BEREC to be less prescriptive, depending on their respective perspective. BEREC considers this a signal that, in many areas, BEREC’s initial approach had struck an appropriate balance in accordance with BEREC’s interpretation of the Regulation.

Among those paragraphs that BEREC decided to amend, BEREC clarified those where the consultation revealed misunderstandings or a potential lack of clarity. Furthermore, BEREC provided additional examples where appropriate and brought the text closer in line with the provisions and recitals of the Regulation.

With the adoption of the Guidelines, BEREC says it has provided NRAs with a basis to enforce the Regulation consistently. Going forward, BEREC will foster the ongoing exchange of experiences by NRAs of their implementation of the Regulation.

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