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August 20, 2015

Digital Minister welcomes UK Net Neutrality review

Minister for the Digital Economy Ed Vaizey backs review into UK's Open Internet Code.

By Alexander Sword

The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) is launching a review into the UK’s approach to the Open Internet.

The review will focus on assessing the effectiveness so far of the current self-regulatory methods employed in the UK, as well as measuring how these methods compare to the EU’s Connected Continent Regulation.

The BSG, which facilitated the creation of the code, commissioned the independent WIK to carry out the study.

The voluntary code for providers, called the Open Internet Code, "commits ISPs to the provision of full and open internet access products and confirms that traffic management practices will not be used to target and degrade the services of a competitor," according to a statement by the BSG.

With all major ISPs and mobile network operators signed up, the code accounts for 90 percent of fixed and mobile connections.

Speaking to CBR, BSG CEO Matthew Evans explained:

"The objective [of the review] is to assess the effectiveness of how it’s worked over the last three or four years and also to assess future effectiveness with Connected Continent regulation.

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"[Effectiveness] has got to be measured against the aims of the code."

However, the BSG clearly hopes that the review will validate the implementation of the code so far:

"We think there is a positive story to tell. There has been no complaint by a content provider that they’ve been discriminated against.

"Self-regulation has brought substantial benefits to the UK so we’d like to see that continue."

The EU is set to sign off Connected Continent Regulation formally in the autumn, which will mark a move away from the self-regulatory approach that has been used so far.

In the UK, according to Evans, "self-regulation is regularly used in telecoms."

"[The EU rules] are more prescriptive; this reflects the different make-up of the EU."

Minister for the Digital Economy Ed Vaizey said: "I welcome this decision by industry and the Broadband Stakeholder Group to review the Open Internet and transparency codes of practice.

"Both codes have been essential in making sure we have an open Internet for consumers in the UK. The Government encouraged the industry to develop a self-regulatory solution and so I am delighted with their success."

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