European regulators report on network neutrality

European regulators report on network neutrality

Back in November 2015, the EU adopted the open internet regulation (EU) 2015/2120, which aims to set fair rules to safeguard equal and non-discriminatory treatment of traffic in the provision of internet access services and related rights of end users. The regulation applies from 30 April 2016. The EU member states are required to annually, by 30 June, report on the implementation of those rules, for the periods from 1 May to 30 April. The first report was to be provided by 30 June 2017, covering the period from 30 April 2016 to 30 April 2017 (the first 12 months following application of the provisions). Now, we have the second year of application and several regulators have published their reports monitoring the period from 1 May 2017 to 30 April 2018. Let's look now at the situation in Austria, Belgium and Sweden.


Austrian regulator RTR dealt with 35 cases of alleged violations of network neutrality regulations, but in most cases, it managed to settle the disputes peacefully, even before the official proceeding was launched. This was in line with the regulator's strategy of the so-called 'smart regulation', relying on operators voluntarily adjusting their terms based on mere discussion with the regulator.

Where proceedings were necessary, however, the regulator found several violations, mainly related to inappropriate traffic management. What the regulator will watch closely, are the zero-rated offers. Although zero-rated services as such are not banned in principle, it is necessary to assess whether an operator's practice in applying zero rating does not hinder competition.


Belgian regulator  BIPT inspected zero-rated services within its annual report, but the investigation did not lead to any intervention. BIPT also collected information on deep packet inspection (DPI), which will require further analysis, especially in the light of GDPR. Overall, the regulator has not observed any major breaches of the open internet regulation.


Swedish regulator PTS has not found anything indicating failures in traffic management and the open internet access in Sweden is good. Still, the regulator will closely monitor the application of the provisions further.

During spring 2017, PTS conducted collection of information on traffic management measures of internet operators and provision of specialized services. Although PTS took no action, it got important information about how operators control and prioritize traffic in their networks. In autumn 2017, PTS implemented a systematic approach to review ISPs contracts, focusing on end users' right to an open internet. Two supervisory cases were initiated as a result of the review, partly against the operator Three and partly against Telenor. The regulator has also examined zero-rated offers of the operators Telia and Three and specialised services.

 To conclude, the European regulators have observed a satisfactory implementation of the EU open internet regulation. Still, the regulators are careful about several peculiarities, such as zero rating, which require a closer look and taking into account concrete details and specifications of each individual service. What we can be sure of is that the regulators plan to monitor the developments further, at least because they are expected to report again in June 2019.

Published on: July 20, 2018

back to list