UK communications regulator Ofcom has threatened ISPs with stricter net neutrality rules if they do not improve the way bandwidth shaping policies and traffic management are explained to users, warning that “it is important that we are able to understand how our access might be restricted.” While the organization concedes that ISPs do go some way in communicating what limits are placed on broadband access – such as P2P throttling at “peak” times of the day – it argues the current explanations are only of real use “to technically savvy consumers” and greater work needs to be done on broadening understanding.
“The internet plays an important role in the lives of citizens, consumers and industry. We now expect and depend on access to the content and services it has to offer” Ofcom CEO Ed Richards said. “Ofcom is now looking to the ISPs to ensure that transparent information is available, and will look to intervene if it does not see improvements.”
The organization has set out three key factors which ISPs must explain clearly: the average speed users should expect, how any traffic management such as throttling might impact service, and details on which services – if any – are specifically blocked. “ISPs should not use the term ‘internet access’ to refer to a service that blocks lawfully available internet services” Ofcom concludes.
If ISPs don’t step up their game, “then Ofcom could use its powers to impose minimum quality of service levels”: that’s not just on how limits are communicated, but which limits themselves are applied. A Net Neutrality framework was passed into UK law earlier this year.