Operators shall treat internet traffic equally according to a draft decision from PTS

07/12/2016

In order not to violate the EU-regulation regarding an open internet access, Telia Company (Telia) shall treat all internet traffic equally once the end-user’s volume limitation for data has been reached. PTS intends to issue an injunction ordering Telia to comply.

PTS is of the opinion that Telia applies traffic management measures in its “Free surf on social media” and “Free surf listening” offers that infringe the EU-regulation stating that providers of internet access services shall treat all traffic equally when providing access to the internet. PTS’ opinion is based on the fact that certain services or applications in these offers are excluded from the data volume limitation (i.e. the data cap) that applies to the underlying internet access service as a whole. This implies that when the data volume is consumed, all internet traffic is being blocked, except for such services and applications that form part of the relevant offers. According to PTS, this should be regarded as unlawful traffic management.

PTS is now publishing a draft decision, communicating PTS’ intention to issue an injunction on Telia to treat all traffic equally once the data volume, in accordance with the subscription for the internet access as such, has been consumed., In a similar case regarding HI3G’s (3) offer ”Free surf for music streaming”, 3 has now informed PTS that 3 will change their offer going forward, in order not to violate the regulation. PTS is positive to 3’s ambition to adjust its offer in order to comply with the regulation and will closely follow this development in order to ensure that the necessary changes are implemented.

PTS has based its examination of the above mentioned offers on the rules relating to traffic management in the TSM regulation, stating that all traffic shall be treated equally and that measures, carried out in order to manage traffic on the internet, only are allowed under certain prerequisites. The regulation also stipulates how various commercial practices may affect the possibility for end-users to access an open internet, which is not the primary focus of the current examination.

- In order to determine how different commercial offers affect the availability of an open internet, we need to follow market developments over a period of time. In addition to scrutinizing specific offers in the market, this implies a continuous work in order to identify and assess several factors affecting competition and the availability of access to an open internet. With this approach, we hope to be able to gradually give more clear and distinct guidance, says Mrs Emma Närvä, Head of Unit for Electronic Communication Services.

The EU regulatory framework aims to protect end-users and simultaneously to guarantee the continued functioning of the internet ecosystem as an engine of innovation. The fundamental idea being that all traffic on the internet shall be treated equally by the internet service providers and hence that the end-users – and not the internet service providers – are to choose the services and applications to be used. Certain traffic management measures and discrimination of traffic may risk limiting the freedom of choice for end-users, and may become an impediment for the innovation and development of future content services. Such measures could also result in a fragmented internet, which eventually would be to the detriment of end-users.

Telia has a possibility to comment on this draft decision until January 4 2017. Please find the draft decision, available here (Swedish only).

For further information

Mrs Emma Närvä, Head of Unit for Electronic Communication Services, Tel: +46 736 44 57 63

PTS Press Office, Tel: +46 8 678 55 55

Background

The object of the EU regulation (i.e. the TSM Regulation), applicable since April 30, 2016, is to preserve an open Internet as a platform for development and innovation.