UK: Plum Report rubbishes bandwidth squeeze, calls for Open Internet #netneutrality

As the net neutrality issue continues to be debated in the UK, a group of content/application providers have commissioned a study on the topic – The open internet – a platform for growth aka the Plum Report. Unsurprisingly the study refutes ISP/telco claims that growing bandwidth demand compels them to finance expansion by shaking down 3rd party providers for access to their customers. The report sets out to dispel a few myths:
Net neutrality myths
and makes some strong policy recommendations:

  • A clear signal of commitment to the open internet by EU institutions, national governments and regulators.
  • Internet access should be clearly defined and the use of the term in marketing restricted to those who provide open access to the internet. This measure could be implemented nationally under consumer protection powers.
  • The application of an industry code of conduct and dispute resolution procedures, through “selfregulation with oversight”, should be promoted. The code should require:
    • Open access to and distribution of internet-based, lawful content and applications for consumers; no blocking of legal services and discrimination on the basis of commercial rivalry.
    • Protection against unilateral and opportunistic requests for payment i.e. holding players to ransom.
    • Principle of parity of access if and where prioritisation is provided on voluntary commercial terms for any content or applications i.e. the same opportunity on the same terms should be available to all (analogous to the principle of equivalence applied at the network access layer).
  • Policy-makers and national regulators (e.g. Ofcom) should closely monitor market developments given the risks to innovation. If the suggested measures prove insufficient, then intervention by national regulators utilising their powers to protect the open internet under the revised EU Electronic Communications Framework, or the introduction by policy makers of a new legally binding open internet requirement, should be considered.

  • The report concludes:

    We conclude that there is no reason to believe that a departure from the open internet norm would be economically efficient – rather, we find a departure from this model would risk irreversible harm.