EU regulatory body Berec found a balance between critics arguing it was weak on net neutrality and those who thought it went too far, said its chair Wilhelm Eschweiler.

His statement came following a consultation that saw a steep increase in the volume of comments in its final week.

Eschweiler (pictured) said the number of contributions jumped from 132,986 at the end of week 5 to 481,547 at the end of the final, sixth, week of consultation. That’s equivalent to 640 comments per minute in the last week.

In total, he described the volume as “unprecedented” for one of the organisation’s consultation processes.

The level of submissions peaking ahead of the deadline as people rushed to get their thoughts included is perhaps not surprising, although it explains the challenge facing Berec.

“A high profile and ambitious task within a tight timeframe” was Eschweiler’s description.

The fact that some respondents criticised Berec for not suggesting stronger guidelines, while other critics believed they went too far, indicate “Berec struck appropriate balance for many aspects in accordance with the regulation”, he suggested.

Berec’s role is not to create new rules, but rather about guidance for national regulators on how they should implement the EU’s net neutrality rules. The NRAs must take “utmost account” of the guidelines.

Berec spells out guidelines
Eschweiler outlined the main changes made to its proposals as a result of the consultation. These included a clarification about whether VPNs are within the scope of the regulation.

The body “clarified a misunderstanding” that the regulation does not require ex ante authorisation regarding commercial practices, traffic management and specialised services,

Berec also said it brought the text closer to the provisions and recitals of the original, underlying regulation.

It also introduced concrete examples of commercial practices by ISPs and operators that are likely to be acceptable, such as the ability for users to access an ISP’s customer service when a data cap is reached in order to purchase additional data.

A footnote was also added clarifying that 5G services using network slicing could be provided as so-called specialised services, which are within the jurisdiction of net neutrality rules. Other specialised services include VoLTE, broadcast IPTV, real-time remote health services.

Berec will publish all non-confidential contributions (46 per cent of the total).

NRAs must provide first annual report on implementation to Berec and EC by 30 June 2017.