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Ofcom to Investigate Network Neutrality

in FCC/International/Net Neutrality by

WASHINGTON, June 25, 2010 – Britain’s Office of Communications (Ofcom) has begun a request of information about network neutrality. The office specifically citied the Comcast case and the actions being taken by the Federal Communication Commission as a contributing factor as to why they believe they must inquire about the issue.

Additionally the EU has given telecommunications regulators increased authority on broadband related issues which allows Ofcom to act on them.

‘New EU rules give regulators a clear responsibility to address the emerging issues around traffic management. The question is how Ofcom uses these and existing powers to further the interests of consumers, while supporting vibrant, innovative content production and network deployment,’  said Ofcom Chief Executive, Ed Richards.

Ofcom has released a 68 page report which outlines why they have deiced to look into the issue and asks a series of questions for which they would like responses from stakeholders. The questions mirror those being asked by the Federal Communications commission which as about discriminatory practices, and how network neutrality will affect innovation.

As part of their request for information Ofcom summarizes actions being taken by the FCC in the United States and also in the rest of Europe.

In Norway the communications authority setup an external working group which included major stakeholders to create a set of voluntary guidelines. These guidelines include giving users a predefined level of speed, the ability to connect any device and the use of any software on the network as long as it is non-harmful to the network and the guarantee of non-discrimination based upon the type of content.

In France the Autorité de Régulation des Communications Électroniques et des Poste (ARCEP) issued a set of guidelines similar to the Norwegian ones and the French Parliament has requested a report on the state of internet use which will be used to possibly formulate legislation.

Sweden’s Post and Telecom Agency has produced a report about the issue but the government has yet to act. The report concluded that effective competition ensures non-discrimination.

Rahul Gaitonde has been writing for since the fall of 2009, and in May of 2010 he became Deputy Editor. He was a fellow at George Mason University’s Long Term Governance Project, a researcher at the International Center for Applied Studies in Information Technology and worked at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. He holds a Masters of Public Policy from George Mason University, where his research focused on the economic and social benefits of broadband expansion. He has written extensively about Universal Service Fund reform, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the Broadband Data Improvement Act

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